“When I’m in Canada I feel this is what the world should be like” — Jane Fonda.
Well, thank you Jane. You are better remembered for other quotes, like a declaration on a certain war in Southeast Asia. But we’ll give you top marks for this one. Should all the world be just like us? Why not? Youth, beauty and a clean conscience are a hard combination to beat. And that’s just for starters.
We’re not exactly young anymore. In the immediate galaxy, we’re one of the older nations, actually.
But for some reason, Canada still feels young, new even. Writer Rupert Brooke once spoke of our “unseizable virginity.” He might have been on to something. It’s like we’re still starting out, heading off to college.
Beauty? Surely we don’t have to haul out all those numbing clichés to reassure ourselves. In terms of drop-your-jaws landscape, how many countries would dare take us on? The endless expanse, the golden Prairies, the pristine lakes, the majestic mountains (OK, I’ll stop there).
Many nations have scarred histories. They hurt from past embarrassments. Their people hesitate to look in the rear-view mirror. Not Canada. Some sullied moments to be sure, but a reasonably proud past, nothing, as we move forward, that weighs heavily on the spirit.
If you thought of this country in terms of it being a person, everyone would be envious of Mr. and Mrs. Canada — their vibrant health, smashing looks, riches, vitality, friends, gorgeous home.
They would say that nobody should be that lucky. They would be so jealous as to hope Mr. and Mrs. Canada had some dark, offsetting character flaw. But they’d find out that they were fair-minded, civil, anchored in common sense, victims not of ideological prejudice or religious zealotry or trigger-happy temperament.
They would see how they overcame differences and welcomed others of different languages, colours, creeds into their home and they would say, “Uck, it’s too much. They must have bribed the Creator.”
“We Canadians,” said Pierre Trudeau, “are standing on the mountaintop of human wealth, freedom and privilege.”
True enough. While there is always much to lament, the big perspective must be kept in mind. In the lottery of nations, we pulled the winning ticket.
F. Scott Fitzgerald said life is something that can be dominated if you’re any good. By that standard, ours is a country that cannot help but prevail.