Friday, July 19, 2013

Canadian Identity - Closing Thoughts on Canadian Identity

Canadian Culture, Canadian Identity, 

Pondering Canadian Culture 


The Canadian's identity devolution from a person in relationship to the natural world and community, to one that emanates from a hyper stimulated urban techno world that is politically correct, conformist and collectivist challenges me. We have a tradition of conformity stemming from what was almost a bureaucratic birthing of a nation, so the trend I am commenting on is long standing. The ruggedness that accompanied our evolution in the face of a harsh climate and the appreciation of the stark beauty northern regions provide and which inhabited our sense of ourselves as Canadian, holds charm. While in viewing the realities of modern society one understands the attachment to the land having to fall to the wayside, however, surely the character of the individuals the land formed should be extended prominence in our national psyche. A little more Robert Service and a little less rap cover please.

Having as a part of our identity, a doctrine like Multiculturalism, placing tolerance for others ideas, values and beliefs as a first premise in the pursuit of equity in our society is noble indeed and eminently practical. Canadian’s ability to function in cultural segments and yet synergistically harmonise as a society which accents cultural pursuit by the presence of the other is remarkable. Inter-cultural, secular and interfaith actions in Canadian society are providing us all with a basis for the future which is needed and lacking in much of the world.    

The institution of family in the context of being culturally supported and as a part of Canadian identity is waning. One enters into a discussion around family values with trepidation, as the extreme left in Canada has maligned the verbalisation of family values for reasons I fail to understand. Most certainly, a strong family does relieve the state of much functional necessity in the realm of social assistance and hence resulting in less government. While the compassionate and generous safety net Canada provides is laudable, it has had a corrosive affect on family. One realises that there are people in need, which require policy to address their special circumstance, but the degradation of family as an entity of paramount importance as is resides in our collective consciousness, has been most detrimental to Canadian society over the past few decades. The infusion of cultural support of family in our national narrative, in concert with affirmative family policy is wanting in contemporary Canadian discourse.

Inherent in the identity that accompanies citizenship as a Canadian is the value or lack of value that citizenship represents. That is to say, the higher the value of citizenship the greater deference will be given to the values the recipient identifies with. My citizenship as a Canadian is innate, I am absent any other expression of citizenship. When people immigrate, the process by which they commit to Canada and to the extent to which we elevate that process, will be reflected in the value they put on citizenship and the extent to which they identify themselves as Canadian. Canadian traditions are likely muted in relevance to traditions from their point of origin. While every effort needs to be extended to immigrants is terms of quality of life, earning full citizenship should come with time and be rigorous. Only in this way will citizenship be elevated beyond merely being a means by which to access a better life and move to being a real commitment to the dominion of Canada. This commitment is very well expressed by the majority of immigrants, but in many cases the absence of extended commitment has lessened the value of citizenship and as a result minimized the attachment of identity to and image of being Canadian. 

The Great Generation, the generation of my mother and father, has all but passed. I wonder who we can count on now. When one contemplates the degree of commitment they had to their citizenship and its responsibilities, one begins to quake at thought of filling their shoes. What was in their sense of national identity that would have so many of them engage voluntarily in as perilous a task as warfare to defend the source of that identity? An anonymous general once commented to King George ll he thought General James Wolf was mad, and King George ll replied “have the dog that bit him bit all our generals.” We might consider looking backwards for inspiration, if not for war, but for a cultural primer on identity based on commitment – seek out a healthy patriotism – perhaps being bit by the dog that bit the great generation. Over time perhaps Canadians will find identity as sovereign agents of world, who are supported in that agency as citizens of Canada and project influence through the logical progression of individual, family, community, region, country and world government.     
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