Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Canada Day!

I am not a flag waver by nature. In fact I feel pretty certain about stating that flag waving and nationalism throughout history has to led to terrible acts. In George Orwell's essay Notes on Nationalism he points to the narrow scope of the nationalist's point of view, A nationalist is one who thinks solely, or mainly, in terms of competitive prestige. He may be a positive or a negative nationalist — that is, he may use his mental energy either in boosting or in denigrating — but at any rate his thoughts always turn on victories, defeats, triumphs and humiliations. He sees history, especially contemporary history, as the endless rise and decline of great power units, and every event that happens seems to him a demonstration that his own side is on the upgrade and some hated rival is on the downgrade.

This kind of nationalism is not only limited in its' purview it is ultimately useless. The quality of our short lives and our own country's success is not irrevocably tied to the endless rise and fall of the fortune's of other nations. In the global economy the economic ties we commit ourselves to can and do have severe affects and consequences, especially if we do not take safeguards against the vagaries of the various markets, but in the end we are responsible for our own happiness and successes. It is about what we can accomplish together, pulling in the same direction, with the resources that we have at our disposal - and as Canadians we have an enormous amount of resources.

Peace, order and good government, are simple and decent things to aspire to and amount to a sound and simple philosophy for governing. In the best tradition of Canadian politics this clause marks a compromise that charts a middle path between a centralized state and a federation. The peace, order and good government clause, in section 91 of the BNA Act, allowed the federal government far-reaching powers to override the provincial powers when an issue or event threatened the country.

It's good that historically our successes have come without the attendant jingoism that we see from our global neighbors but of late Canadians have let a kind of chauvinism creep into the national identity and that's not necessarily a good thing. Humility is a far more endearing and useful national character trait. It's the kind of thing that will keep Canadians looking forward to finding ways to improve on what we do with all that we have - and there's lots we can improve on. After all, there's nothing to be gained from being smug about our riches and good fortune, this is just a day to celebrate it. Enjoy!

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