My Own Top 10 List of What it Means to be Canadian.
Today, as I do most days, I spent some time perusing the major newspapers. I read the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star. Most newspapers have a "letters to the editor" section where readers can voice their opinions on news items but in the days of the internet people seem to prefer to comment digitally. I wonder why newspapers don't recognize that the "letters to the editor" section and the comments area of their websites are essentially the same thing. They both require moderation by a professional editor, yet the online versions allow trolls to run rampant to spew hateful and intolerant viewpoints which are unworthy of respectable media sources.
I was especially offended while reading a piece about what it means to be Canadian. The article entitled "Top 10 ways to spot a Canadian" and written by Globe and Mail columnist Judith Timson was designed, probably on purpose, to inflame certain segments of the population. The commentary relied on Canadian cliches such as a countrywide affection for maple syrup and references to controversial hockey analyst Don Cherry but waded into dangerous territory by weighing in on the left side of the political spectrum. These newspapers aren't stupid. They know which topics are hot buttons for trolls. What I found offensive is that this list of things that was supposed to be universally Canadian, was in fact a divisive list designed to feed the trolls.
Darts to the Globe and Mail first for approving a deliberately divisive article on Canada Day and secondly for not corralling the bigoted and offensive remarks which followed this article. I guess they are desperate to sell papers and gain the most online readers but is there no standard for media any longer? Is it now the job of major newspapers to cause conflict? It makes me wonder.
So for this Canada Day, I will compile my own list of what it means (to me) to be Canadian. This is my list. It is not meant to suggest that you will also have the same experience. You can use the comment box below to post your own list.
1.) I believe Canadians are united in the knowledge that we live in a Country where the weather can kill us. We may halfheartedly complain about the summer heat but we all seem to identify with the strength it requires to deal with our winters.
2.) I believe Canadians are proud of our political tolerance. We don't enjoy divisive politics, attack ads and snarky politicians.
3.) I believe Canadians don't feel the need to wave flags to be patriotic. Our patriotism is quiet, more internal and not subject to maudlin public displays.
4.) I believe Canadians are intensely proud of our healthcare system. It isn't to say that we don't recognize that there are problems or shortfalls; just that we prefer to pay into a system which cares for all Canadians in their time of need.
5.) I believe Canadians prefer to be peacekeepers instead of aggressors. War is something which is a last resort after all other options are completely exhausted, and only if there is a direct threat to the life and liberty of individuals.
6.) I believe Canadians are ready and willing to celebrate not only our own cultural traditions, but those of our friends and neighbours.
7.) I believe Canadians want to be good world citizens. As individuals we tend to recycle, share our good fortune with others and avoid products which encourage cruelty, pollution or promote poverty.
8.) I believe Canadians are intensely proud of the natural beauty of our Country and wish to preserve this for future generations.
9.) I believe Canadians love to point out the successes of fellow Canadians. We have collectively memorized every famous public figure who was born or raised here and are ready to recite the list from memory to non-Canadians.
10.) I believe Canadians are happy to be recognized as Canadians when they travel. Just visit another country and look for the Canadian hats, pins, t-shirts and other quiet displays of pride.
In my experiences at home and abroad I have been happy to see Canadians behaving like... well Canadians. Tolerant, kind, helpful and polite. Although there will always be exceptions to any rule, my overall perception of fellow citizens is overwhelmingly positive, even if the online community disappoints me at times.
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