Archive for January, 2008
When I lived in the U.S. I would often get into conversations with friends that would go something like this:
Friend: “Did you see the new movie *insert name of current movie* yet?”
Me: “No. But I want to. It has *insert name of Canadian actor* in it. I like him/her. He/she is Canadian, you know.”
I used to do this without even realizing or thinking about it. I would automatically and joyfully point out to my non-Canadian friends that so-and-so is Canadian. This isn’t just limited to the acting arts, but covers any topic that can be conversed about.
“You know that business guy who just bilked his company for millions? Yeah, he’s Canadian.”
“Hey did you watch that show about serial killers last night? Yeah, that one mean guy who killed everyone and their pets. He was Canadian.”
“Man, that was some good porno! You know that actress that let all those guys &#$&#& her and then !#%!@$% @$%$ with the !@$^%@$% and then @^%^% in the @$^@$^ and afterwards they all @^%@ @^@6 @^@^$ @^@^$@$@^^@$%^ @^@$^^ until they were too tired to do anything else? Yeah, she’s Canadian.”
Invariably when the conversation streams into an area remotely pertaining to Canada or Canadians we, as a people, are only to happy to point out the Canadianess about the object of discussion. It could be argued that this is because we are so proud of being Canadian, and there may be a grain of truth to that.
More likely, though, it does come from the Canadian sense of being a secondary citizen due to the proximity of our big-brother, America. In many ways this habit — the habit of pointing out everything that is Canadian whether or not our audience wants to hear — is very much like the little sibling vying for attention. “Look at me, I’ve done some cool things too!”
My advice to my fellow Canadians, STOP IT!!! It’s annoying and sycophantic. It’s not a sign of pride. It doesn’t further the cause of being Canadian.
If you are truly proud to be Canadian, then just be Canadian. Be a citizen of the world. Stop living through our compatriots who have made a splash on the international scene. Be proud of them, sure. Acknowledge what they have done and what they represent, but there’s no need to drape a Canadian flag around their shoulders in order to show off their Canadianess to others. Real strength is born in silence and not bluster. Bluster is a front, and a front is to cover up a weakness.
Canadians aren’t weak. We are strong. So stop being little children, and grow up and just be.
That’s what I don’t like about Canadians. Now excuse me, I have to go listen to some Arcade Fire and watch Juno while eating some poutine before I play some hockey with Kiefer Sutherland and discuss how Canadians won WWI at Vimy Ridge before paddling away in my canoe.
I remember when I was young, we’re talking preteen, and Ronald Reagan was President of the United States, telling a friend that the President wasn’t a real leader, but just a figure-head. The real power was in all the people who surrounded him. Ronald Reagan just did not seem like a leader to me. I think a pretty astute observation for one so young.
Now I’m not talking conspiracy theory, although in the past I’ve stated that something like the New World Order is, to me, quite possible. I just believe that most political leaders really have just a fraction of the power that most people perceive them to have, and that it’s really a cabal of powerful, salivating types behind the leaders who drive policy and presentation. A lot of that, obviously, comes from Big Business.
I’ve been reading Noam Chomsky’s Hegemony or Survival . In it Chomsky discusses what he sees as the real purpose behind American political policy, and the truth about the current status of ‘democracy’. I haven’t finished the book yet, but one passage I came across pretty much sums it up, I believe. It’s found on page 119 (hardcover):
“What remains of democracy is largely the right to choose among commodities. Business leaders have long explained the need to impose on the population a ‘philosophy of futility’ and ‘lack of purpose in life,’ to ‘concentrate human attention on the more superficial things that comprise much of fashionable consumption.’ Deluged by such propaganda from infancy, people may then accept their meaningless and subordinate lives and forget ridiculous ideas about managing their own affairs. They may abandon their fate to corporate managers and the PR industry and, in the political realm, to the self-described ‘intelligent minorities’ who serve and administer power.” (note: Inside the book-quote I replaced the ” with ‘ to try to avoid confussion.
In other words, welcome to the matrix.
Ontario premier, Dalton McGuinty, recently urged people to buy, buy, buy in order to stimulate the economy. Here is the actual quote: “If you want to be helpful to the economy, then go ahead and buy that fridge, buy that new house, buy that car. That’s good for our economy and that’s good for our jobs.”
That’s fine, and I understand that the way our civilization is wound up in the economy that we need to keep buying things, even if we don’t need or really want them, in order to keep the economy healthy, so that we can earn more money to buy more things. That’s the way things work.
But it’s unfortunate. It’s misleading. It’s a philosophy that will only lead us, the majority of us, to a worse life rather than the promised (by business and PR) wonderland of the future.
Business is economy and economy is politics. It’s so ingrained in our society, how do we break out? Is there a different, viable philosophy that would allow us to live a healthy, happy life on this planet?
After realizing and coming to the conclusion that I have forgotten pretty much everything that I had ever learned about Canadian History, I decided that I needed to do something about it. A few days ago I went to my local library and checked out a couple of books on Canadian History, as well as Noam Chomsky’s Hegemony or Survival – which, if I may say, is scaring the crap out of me.
As for the Canadian History books I was looking for something general, basic, and a good overview of the subject. I decided to take home Canadian History For Dummies (2nd ed), by Will Ferguson. How much more ‘general’ and ‘basic’ than that can a book get?
I like the Dummies series. I’ve read a few of their books in the past and have always found them to be accessible and informative. So far I’ve found this book to be the same. It’s been enjoyable, an easy read, and I’ve learned much from the experience so far.
I’m still in the relatively early history of Canada; the British have defeated the French on the Plains of Abraham.
Often, we are told, that one difference between America and Canada is that America is a nation forged in blood, whereas Canada evolved into political reality much more peacefully. When the nations were ‘born’ I suppose this is true, but so far the history of Canada is rife with violence and conflict. Of course History, at least the history that makes books and captures public imagination, tends towards the conflicts that invoke change.
That having been said, early Canadian history (and by ‘Canadian History’ here, I mean history of the area that would eventually become Canada from the time of European immigration) was full of violent conflict, insane heroes, and small-scale battles for rights and territory. The French took over English forts, the English torched Acadian settlements, the Iroquois Nation caused much fear and grief in Quebec, and the First Nations suffered greatly by the movement of Europeans.
I still find myself thinking about cultural geography in these times as American and Canadian, while in reality neither of these current political entities existed at this time. It’s funny, though, how pervasive this feeling is. At this point in history there were just French, English, Spanish and colonists, as well as colonists from other regions. There were the First Nations. And there was a whole lot of land. No America, and no Canada. And yet, I still can’t get past superimposing the idea of these nations on the history. It’s very disorienting.
Recently a proposal was made to bring the Scarborough flag back, to provide some pride for a ‘flagging’ community.
I think it will take more than this flag to make Scarberians proud of their community. Let’s try developing more community space and events first.
I was born and raised in Scarborough, Ontario. I currently live in Scarborough. In between I spent most of my adult life in various other parts of North America, so as an adult I’ve lived in Scarborough for probably not much more than two, or possibly three years. I moved back for personal and family reasons. Honestly, I don’t plan to stay in Scarborough for too long, and I know my future is to live in a (or various) different community.
When I was in high-school I had no love for Scarborough. Now that I’m in my 30’s I still don’t ‘love’ the place, but I do see it with different eyes. I see potential and promise. I also see the problems and the issues that this area has to deal with.
Scarborough is considered the bad area of the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). Those who don’t live here believe Scarborough is where the majority of crime in the GTA is committed or derived from. It’s supposed to be gang-infested and dangerous, in other words people don’t just visit Scarborough for something to do. Unless you have a reason to visit Scarborough, most people outside of the region don’t spend much time there.
On the contrary, a report came out over a year ago stating that Scarborough actually has a lower per capita crime rate than many other areas of the GTA. And yet the media and people who don’t live here continue to portray it as a place worse than hell, or something thereabouts.
The problem that I had with Scarborough, as a teenager, and if I’m going to be honest today as well, is that it has no heart and soul. Scarborough Town Centre, which is a huge, ugly mall, is considered to be the city center. Other than that there isn’t any central commercial region. When we used to go shopping, or just wanted to hang out somewhere, as a teen we would automatically head downtown, into the heart of Toronto. Other than malls there is no real attractive commercial district in the borough.
Since I’ve moved back, though, I have a better opinion of the area. Scarborough is, as it was when I was younger, densely multicultural. Most areas of Scarborough are a mish-mash of skin tone and verbal accent. Of course most of the GTA is like this, but I believe that Scarborough takes the situation one step further.
In my immediate neighbourhood I actually feel safer today than I did when in high-school. In the mornings when I used to set off for school there would be crack dealers asking me if I wanted to buy some drugs and hookers plying their trade…at 8 a.m. O.K, a drug addiction I can understand; you need your fix. But hookers? At that time of the morning? Seriously!
What I think Scarborough needs is an event. Something to make the locals proud and to interest people from other parts of the GTA, and even from further afield, to come to Scarborough to participate. Some kind of one-of-a-kind festival, or celebration. SOMETHING.
If anyone has any ideas, I’d love to hear them.