A Canadian guide to understanding America
By: Brian McLeod
| Posted: Saturday, Oct 27, 2012 06:00 am
A recent trip with the grandchildren to Disneyland has renewed my lifelong love affair with America and Americans. Now, I realize that by admitting that I love Americans, I run the real danger of being cast out of society like some unwelcome virus, but there are a few benefits associated with this love. For example, whenever I attend a regional “I Love Americans” convention, it’s always easy to get a hotel room, and a parking space right in front of the building. The other delegate agrees with me.
I find that most Canadians have a generalized dislike of America, and a specific dislike of Americans, but I believe that much of this animosity is due to the simple failure of Canadians to appreciate the dichotomy of America. The U.S.A. is a nation of contrasts. Consider these examples:
• Some of the greatest medical facilities in the world, but a nation unable to provide health care to many of its members.
• Equally, a nation with magnificent schools of education, yet an education system that turns out a flood of poorly educated citizens.
• Breathtaking wealth that stands beside the depths of grinding poverty.
• A nation that gave us the brilliance of Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Walt Disney, but also gave us the likes of Peewee Herman, Charles Manson, and Honey Boo Boo.
There are probably a thousand other examples, but I think you’ve probably already understood what I was trying to say. Therefore, in the interests of improved relations with our American cousins, I offer these hints for better understanding of, and appreciation for, the United States and its citizens:
• First, and of high importance, is to understand that geography is not taught in American schools. In fact, I think it’s illegal to teach this subject in the U.S. Most Canadians have angry memories of some American who inquired whether Canada was part of Minnesota, or part of Michigan. Do not be insulted. Americans are unaware of other nations beyond their borders, but they are equally unaware of any other states beyond their own. Residents of Montana cannot find Canada on a map, but don’t be discouraged; these same residents also can’t find Idaho, Wyoming or North Dakota. Yes, they may be guilty of geographic ignorance, but they don’t play favourites – their ignorance of geography is universal and unbiased.
• Your understanding of America will always be limited until you appreciate that Americans live in awe of what is a totally fictitious image of their nation’s origins. Many of the quotations of Thomas Jefferson (whom they adore) would be considered treasonous if spoken today. Second, remember that America, while a nation of guns and war, is also a nation that produced leaders who openly talked about the dangers of having any domestic military, of any kind, and presidents who promised to keep America out of all “foreign entanglements.” Finally, consider that this is a nation where its citizens will literally fight to the death to defend their constitution, but the one thing they will not do, under any circumstances, is actually read this same damn document!
• A nation whose scientists put men on the moon is the same society that forbids Park Rangers from mentioning that running water took millions of years to carve the Grand Canyon, as such a timeline contradicts the religious view of creation done during a “slow week” in Heaven.
• Be tolerant and have sympathy – it can’t be easy to manage a nation where over 50 per cent of its citizens now outweigh their own SUVs. As a leader, you should get worried when personal weigh scales have dropped both pounds and kilograms, and now only use gross metric tons as a unit of measurement. So, try to be sympathetic. After all, would you rather have Syria or Libya as your southern neighbour?