A friend of mine took me to task for complaining about things. “We have it good. Complaining just gives people the feeling that complaining is OK.” While I wrote that particular piece with my tongue firmly tucked into my cheek, his comments got me thinking.
I have it good. Really good.
A hundred years ago or so, I was a history major. As I think about my middle class, middle aged life, I realized that I have it better than … say, Charles I, also known as Charlemagne.
Charlemagne ruled from around 760 to 810ish. This “father of Europe” was ruler over much of what is now Europe. He had millions of subjects. Servants to accommodate his every whim. He had plenty of cash and jewels in his vault.
He never had indoor plumbing like I have. He couldn’t walk over to the fridge, grab some leftover food and plunk it in the microwave. His castle was no doubt incredibly uncomfortable: hot in the summer, freezing in the winter. He had to constantly be prepared for war.
In short, this king’s life sucked, compared to mine.
As I was thinking about this, I thought I would list off a few things that make me think that Canada is a fantastic place to live. Some things may resonate with you. Some you will disagree with.
The fact that we can disagree on these things, and still be friends, strikes me as being distinctly Canadian.
Canada is open to “outsiders”. I know that this is not a sentiment that is popular in some circles, but I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t true. My people came from countries where persecution reigned. As they were being persecuted and killed, they looked for a place where they could live in freedom. Religious and otherwise.
They were welcomed to Canada.
When I hear the rhetoric of closing our borders, I think that we have forgotten something pretty important; unless we are native Canadians, our forebears all came to Canada as either immigrants or refugees.
All of us.
This is an important Canadian principle for me. So important, in fact, that I voted for a political party that I had never voted for. Ever. I felt, however, that the previous government was moving away from this Canadian trait.
So I voted. Not because of fiscal plans or any particular promise. I’m a bit jaded when it comes to political promises. No, I voted because I felt a particular party had different priorities that, at the time, seemed more Canadian to me.
Clean water. I know. Not a very big thing. Most of the time, I give water almost no thought.
I think that’s the point. If I lived in a country in what we call the developing world, it is likely that having access to clean water would be a big deal. A very big deal.
A life and death deal.
I can walk over to any tap in my home, turn it on, and drink clean water. I can take a shower and flush my toilet. King Charlemagne couldn’t do any of these things.
I do it all for pennies.
I know that not every Canadian has clean water. We haven’t always done the right thing. Sometimes issues of race, politics, and greed get in the way.
Over all, though, a large majority of us have access to abundant, clean water.
Medicare. I think that most people identify Canada with having universal health care. At a point in our history, we decided on something decidedly Canadian: every person – whether they could afford it or not – should have access to health care.
What that means is that you folks who are in good health are subsidizing people like me who aren’t.
In my lifetime, I have had a couple of very major surgeries and a number of less major ones. I have been injected with a variety of expensive drugs. I’ve had so many doctor’s visits that it wouldn’t be possible to count. I have been hospitalized for lengthy periods of time.
All this – literally – cost a fortune. Fortunately for me, the bill was picked up by the Canadian taxpayers.
If I lived in the US, I would be bankrupt and broke. My quality of life would be non-existent.
It is quite probable that I’d be dead.
That’s how important medicare is to a non-healthy person. And I believe that it was Canadian’s natural impulse to help others -that led to medicare’s creation.
In the next while, I’ll be putting up a few more ideas that I think of as uniquely Canadian. Maybe you will make a few comments yourself. I’d be interested to read them.
In the meantime: I Am Canadian.