Something’s Gotta Give
Canada lives in the shadow of the United States. To the rest of the world, we’re a spoof: a fairly poignant joke perpetuated by South Park and the stereotype that we are over-actively polite. We are. I’ve actually seen a reporter doing an undercover piece on how many people say “thank you” after a door is opened for them at a mall on a Canadian news broadcast. Whatever the results, the very premise of that really speaks, eh?
For us, the frozen North, the United States is a laughably evil place ruled by comic-book style hooligans, corrupted to its core in every way imaginable. We are not at all surprised to hear that someone has been selling people actual poison as food in some loophole of FDA protocol. We boost our ego in a desperate attempt to cure our “little-man” syndrome by calling Americans fools for listening to George Bush. The leader of an entire nation, a super-power with incredible world influence, was a laughing stock: a veritable Berlusconi in lieu of sexual deviances with a learning disorder and an inability to formulate a coherent sentence.
We award ourselves pride for the identity we’ve given to the USA. We live with the idea that no matter what happens here, at least we aren’t as bad as the States. We would never let the 1984-esque mass mind-control situation that, to us, exists in the USA happen here. We are more enlightened. We survive brutal winters. We are pioneers. We hike mountains and hide our food from fucking BEARS. Our weed would knock you on your ass, we are Canadians. We aren’t them, we would never let that happen. We have an “it’s bad, but not THAT bad” syndrome. Our ego is so far in the way of admitting that there is some very real shit happening right now.
October 22, 2014, a soldier is shot on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, following another recent incident where two soldiers died on Canadian turf. I don’t know what the coverage of this event may have looked like in your respective countries, so I’ll explain in short what happened here.
A homeless drug addict with ties to the Muslim faith shoots a soldier on Parliament Hill, presumably trying to shoot the Prime Minister of Canada. Within about 15 minutes he is shot himself and dies. Obviously, there are many more nuances and facts about this event, and obviously, this is a grave tragedy for the family and friends of the soldier. The media coverage of this event is strung with words like “terrorism”, “radicalised” and “links to ISIS”, ambiguously suggesting that the country is under attack. And it is this fear-inducing language that, in turn, produced an endless war on a word that is more recognisable in the western world than the phrase “two girls, one cup”: terror.
We forget that we’ve been a country at war for 13 years. While we may consciously know that information, we have no idea what to do with it. We are so far from the decision-making process of our country in our minds, clouded by an archaic system and duplicitous political jargon, that we have to look away and formulate our protest as drunkenly spurting out 9/11 conspiracy theories at a party.
This isn’t just a Canadian issue, this is a global issue of being alienated from the power of our countries. It’s an issue of disconnect between government and popular opinion. We have a responsibility to be aware of what we are doing in other countries. If we enjoy the freedoms of where we live, if we pay taxes to a government, we have some responsibility for its wars. A foreign country cannot see you as an individual, cannot understand that you personally do not condone a war that soldiers you pay for are fighting. They can only see the impact on their lives of people wearing the same flag you take pride in and probably have tattooed on your butt, beside a turtle with a lawn mower.
We accept politicians speaking in a facetious language that can barely be understood, and, in effect, that means nothing at all. We expect to be lied to, so much that we brush it off. We actually laugh at groups of people that take Sarah Palin at her word. We call them idiots. And perhaps (see: absolutely) they are, but what does it say about us that we are so accustomed to lies that we ridicule those who believe them? The lie is the crime.
I’m not proposing an immediate solution because, like most, I don’t know one. What I am proposing is that those that can, start talking about it. We get over the shock and disbelief that it is so close to us and just start brainstorming some solutions. Let’s start having a logical, informed discussion on a) what the problems are; b) what may work to change positively; and c) how we begin.
Can we look at this realistically and start brainstorming some solutions? Solutions independent of an imaginary deity or influence? Can we come to terms with the idea that the West is at its sunset, get over the shock and start talking about a reasonable solution to the mess that we are in? It’s heavily disheartening, and like with all things sad and horrific, is so much easier to put away from yourself. But where to put aggressions? I myself, do not know where or how to begin but I think it should start with a collective decision to make politics an open and popular conversation. I think that this change needs to begin with a collective decision to popularise even the most seemingly mundane political actions. Bills, bylaws, whatever – let’s start getting involved. Because maybe, if we collectively demand clarity and demand truth, the demand will force transparency in our governing forces.
Maybe it begins with a thoughtful recourse. Maybe we just need to start talking, understanding, learning about what is happening and beginning to change because of a necessity to. We have the resources – we just need a path. Let’s stop asking the question of whether or not our state of affairs is sustainable (it is not) and go from there. Can we all redirect some of the energy we put in to making memes of cats being cats and erasing our search histories before our boyfriends come home into being informed? I’m honestly asking what you think we should do. We have the tools, we have the resources and we have the ambition to start expressing how we feel, so someone, somewhere, can relate. From there, a communication of like-minded people can come together, and then we can start to define our unrest. From that clarification, maybe we can start organising some solutions.
We are all different, but it takes all kinds. It takes one person caring more about one issue than the other; vice versa, not wanting to categorise oneself – people from all walks of life that believe in the existence of a concept better than the way we’re living now. We all sort of know it; we’re all sort of aware that shit’s getting real. We are prepared for a call to arms in the same way that we fantasise what character we would be in the Walking Dead. Let’s start talking. Let’s start.