Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Shameful joy

This morning I saw a news article entitled Divided States of America: Obama win sparks secession mania and eagerly clicked on it. What are those crazy Yanks up to now? There’s always something wacky going on down there, and I nearly always enjoy reading about it. This particular instance has several right-wing states organizing and signing on-line petitions declaring their desire to get out from under the US flag. It’s no surprise that the majority of the states involved were on the Confederate side of the ol’ Civil War (they’ve never really let that old chestnut die, as the slogan “The South Shall Rise Again” would suggest).

I’m not suggesting this is a racial issue (though if the Twitter-verse is to be believed, there are plenty of folks who don’t much care for the skin shade of the current president). They are quoting “state’s rights,” saying they’re pissed about Obamacare, claiming El Presidente isn’t following the Constitution and that “it isn’t the same country anymore.” If you’re interested in the details, feel free to check out the article.

It amused me, anyway. Immediately after I finished reading it, I saw another story called Secret document details new Canadian foreign policy. Instead of leaping at the chance to read about my own nation humiliating itself, I hesitated. Did I really want to hear about what lunatic rules our man Harper has concocted? Was there any chance I’d possibly agree and not end up frustrated? I realized I have a bad case of schadenfreude (the Germans have a word for everything). The stupidity of the US delights me, while I’ve developed an apprehension about learning about my own country’s idiocy. I decided to be brave and plunged in.


Harper wants us to make money in the world, regardless of moral considerations, bluntly stating we’ll do business with anyone, no matter what. Read the article and the quotes from the “secret document.” It’s chilling. A comic-book villain could hardly come up with a more obvious greed-based manifesto.

When I was a kid (how do you know I’m old? I start stories with “when I was a kid”), I remember Canada as a nation with a proud heritage of peace and peace-keeping. We put our morals and ethics before global power and financial success. Immigrants were welcomed into the Canadian fold without having to leave their culture at the border. As a people, we’d rather apologize then argue, rather be quietly right than publicly wrong, rather come in second than hurt someone else to win.

Of course, I was a kid, so I didn’t realize all that was delusional crap. Still, it was a lovely image, and I believe truer thirty years ago than it is today. In only six years, Harper has managed to virtually destroy our global reputation by his contempt for any world-wide issue beyond his oh-so-precious economy. We’re often pointed at as an example when someone else wants to find a villain on climate issues, poverty, the protection of children, human rights, and police corruption. This is particularly disturbing when one remembers we live next door to the UNITED STATES! They used to be the whipping boy for the world; no more. Have we become the bad neighbour on the block, the one that never mows his grass, has a rusting car on cinderblocks, and has pets that leave unpleasant coilies on other’s lawns? Are we, in the eyes of the world, lying in a wading pool in our underwear, beer between our legs? If the Conservatives have their way (and we seem determined to let them), I believe this is our fate.

There’s an exchange from Quantum of Solace, the second Craig-as-Bond movie, from the CIA agents:

Felix Leiter: You know who Greene is and you want to put us in bed with him.
Gregg Beam (sarcastic): Yeah, you’re right. We should just deal with nice people.

Beam has a point. No one’s perfect. I would suggest, however, that choosing business partners based on morality rather than immediacy of opportunity is wise long-term thinking.

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