Canada in an Identity Crisis?

I am grateful to be Canadian, to live in a country that values the individual, no matter the race or religion, and protects freedom of expression. I have visited nations from every continent and realize that Canada is a special place. I am not unaware of the fact that in many countries I would not have the opportunity to write articles as I do, addressing issues every week.

For Canada to remain “strong and free” Canadians must take their duty to “stand on guard” seriously. There are two ways a nation can fail and fall: one is through an external power – conquered from without; and, the other is through an internal weakness – collapse from within.

I see Canada embroiled in a war of ideas. Canada is still in a search to define itself. As such, it is open to entertaining new ideas, adopting them and integrating them into our society. Those ideas need to be challenged, for that openness can be a wonderful strength or a profound weakness. The effect of an idea gone wrong can be devastating.

I see Canada as in the early stages of its national development, and my observation is that Canada is imitating the habits of teenagers. Those of us who are parents can identify with that challenging time as teens attempt to transition into adulthood. It is not an easy thing to watch or be a part of. The maturing process can be painfully slow, and often brings out the best or the beast in them.

Canada, in its national adolescence, seems to be attracted to the idea of difference for difference sake. It seems to know more of what it is against than it knows what it is for, and has built its identity around a reaction to what it does not want to be. There have been numerous books written on the identity crisis Canada suffers living next to Big Brother USA. We often take positions against the American mind set just to express our right to create the Canadian difference.

I have seen my nation’s struggle to be viewed as a global leader propel them to be early adopters of new ideas and take on positions that defy common sense. Is our corporate identity enhanced in some way by demonstrating our right to march to the beat of our own drum? Are we somehow strengthened in our national image by disagreeing with the ancient wisdom? Has being an early adopter helped or hurt our international image? Or, are we having an adolescent spasm?

To use a statement from Natalia Mordy’s column on Eco-Friendly Living, my aim is not to be mainstream minded either. As she said, “last time I checked, the stream wasn’t too healthy.” I concur. Canada should not define itself by comparison or competition with other nations in the world. There is an historical wisdom we can tap into for decision-making. There is an internal grid called conscience. There is a law written upon the hearts of the generations of the nations that we all must read.

Canada is vulnerable as it strains to emerge into adulthood and maturity as a nation. Its identity is still in the making. What will Canada eventually look like? What will its core beliefs and values be? What will it eventually grow up to become? How will it be seen by its global neighbours?

The key to the formation of this new identity will be the ideas Canada adopts as its own. Those ideas will form its future. Those ideas will attract visitors. Those ideas will create a DNA for generations as they will be read in our legislatures, taught in our schools and universities, applied in the marketplace, and integrated into our homes and family values.

The future identity of Canada will be forged in the ideas of today. They need to be challenged from passionate Canadians. A confluence of compassion and reason need to come together to ensure that the destiny of our great land and its people is protected. May God keep this land glorious and free!

Castanet Article
Thursday August 16th, 2007
Oh! Canada! Column