Loud Murmurs

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.“— Mahatma Gandhi

A New Country, an Old Country

Photo with our Citizenship Certificates

2 Brand New Canadians

You will always remem­ber this day.” said Judge Anne-Marie Kaines. A tall and impres­sive fig­ure of author­ity, she talked about the tra­di­tion that Cana­di­ans have of vol­un­teerism, of sac­ri­fice and car­ing for oth­ers, whether we know them or they are strangers. She invoked Terry Fox, whose statue was only a few hun­dred meters away from us in the plaza in front of the entrance to BC Place. “You can’t just expect to ‘plug-in’ to health care and pen­sions and all the other ben­e­fits of Cana­dian life. That’s sim­ply unsus­tain­able.” Besides pay­ing our taxes, she made it clear that we needed to find some­thing, some cause or char­ity to con­tribute to.

In the 7 years that I’ve lived here, I’ve noticed that char­ity, such as the almost daily occur­rence of a Walk for Hunger or Walk for Breast Can­cer Sur­vivors or Hos­pi­tal Lot­tery or Telethon, is front and cen­tre in Canada. It is telling that per­haps the most uni­ver­sally admired fig­ure in recent Cana­dian his­tory is a boy who died while attempt­ing to tra­verse the coun­try on 1 foot, hav­ing lost his other to the dis­ease he was essen­tially doing fund-raising to cure. Fox, as the Judge also noted, had a tremen­dous world­wide impact, and we should look upon his feat as some­thing that any of us should aspire to as well.

I’m glad that in Canada, char­ity is not the largely the province of Reli­gion, as it often is in the US. Yes­ter­day, Ann Rom­ney, when asked why her hus­band Mitt refused to release more than 2 years tax returns as part of the polit­i­cal cam­paign, said “…we’ve given all our peo­ple need to know and under­stand about our finan­cial sit­u­a­tion and about how — you know, how we live our life.” and added that he eagerly gave 10% of his income to ‘The Church’ as proof that he was a good per­son. Actu­ally, for me, that would be proof that he’s merely a church­goer (which means noth­ing morally and may even be a strike against him, in my opin­ion), and pos­si­bly a homo­phobe, given the Mor­mon Church’s recent activ­i­ties (they funded the sup­port­ers of the noto­ri­ous Cal­i­for­nia Propo­si­tion 8 that took away the rights of gay peo­ple to marry).

I also think that sec­u­lar char­ity is also related to a side of what I’ve often noticed in the Canada vs. US dif­fer­ences (which become harder to find, the longer I live here): Cana­di­ans are more apt to see them­selves as part of a com­mu­nity than those in the US. We see the bleed­ing over the bor­der of the worst of Amer­i­can ‘cow­boy’ cul­ture (and firearms) and are, with due cause, concerned.

A few days before the shoot­ings last night in Aurora, CO, there had been a mas­sacre involv­ing gun-play in Toronto. Our news cov­er­ing that inci­dent was mainly a seri­ous con­ver­sa­tion about how we could have antic­i­pated such a tragedy or bet­ter yet, stopped it from hap­pen­ing in the first place. Giv­ing teens a rea­son to inte­grate into the com­mu­nity was about the clos­est one could get to a con­sen­sus. Nearly every com­men­ta­tor ridiculed Toronto’s Mayor, Rob Ford, who idi­ot­i­cally insisted that stricter penal­ties on gun vio­lence are the answer (since it’s obvi­ous that teenage gang-members are dri­ven by logic and long-range think­ing and would cer­tainly change their behav­iour if they knew that if they got caught, tried and con­victed, it would get put them in jail for a longer sen­tence. Yes, that was sar­casm, Mr. Mayor.)

The fact that Toron­to­ni­ans (and Cana­di­ans) have done a lot of soul-searching and con­sider the shoot­ings in that city to be a crime against us all and against our mul­ti­cul­tural com­mu­nity, stands in stark con­trast to US spokes­peo­ple and politi­cians (with the notable excep­tion of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg) resort­ing to empty words about prayers for the vic­tims and their fam­i­lies (Again, the knee-jerk reac­tion of Amer­i­cans to invoke reli­gion galls me). In the cov­er­age of the Aurora shoot­ings, I can’t help but see how dif­fer­ent the reac­tion of these two coun­tries are to these some­what sim­i­lar tragedies. It’s worth not­ing, how­ever, that even with the toxic influx of ille­gal firearms from our south­ern bor­der, there were  200 peo­ple killed by guns in all of Canada this past year, where in the US that num­ber is 9,484. (If it were the same ratio to the pop­u­la­tion, the US total would then be closer to 2,000.)

I’m deter­mined, now that I’m a vot­ing Cana­dian, to vote for a can­di­date who is pro gun con­trol, since such a dec­la­ra­tion here is not polit­i­cal sui­cide. I’ll also sup­port any­one who shares that Cana­dian acknowl­edge­ment of ‘The Com­mon Good’, which is not only what ini­tially attracted me to this coun­try, but was called out as a national char­ac­ter­is­tic in my Oath of Cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­mony two days ago.

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  1. Con­grat­u­la­tions, David and Pam. You both deserve all the acco­lades. To me, you’re more Cana­dian than maple syrup. Wel­come home!

  2. Thanks, Raul. I was wor­ried that you had per­haps moved to Mex­ico, but checked and found out you were doing a tour. Hope we see you again soon.

  3. glenn mcdonald

    July 20, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Con­grat­u­la­tions from your old home to your new one!

  4. Yay, Pam & David!

    You’re offi­cially Canucks now, “ya’ll”!

    Good on ‘ya!

    Hope to fol­low soon .…

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