In May 2015, I published a rather blunt article about our national anthem, “O Canada”, We Stand On Guard For Thee! which seemed to have really hit a nerve – it’s now the 2nd most read out of the 120 posted in the last 2 years – and we saw the 2nd highest number of new followers added in a single day (over 135!)
However, one reader wasn’t at all impressed, and it took me by surprise. He seemed quite genuinely ticked off.
“Why are you so militantly patriotic?”, he started. “I don’t get why you are so ‘up in our business’ about Canada. There’s ‘loving my country’ and then there’s the ‘I’d DIE for Canada’ uncomfortable crap that you believe. It’s just so ——- (censored) black & white for some of you Conservatives. It’s totally backwards to be so disgustingly patriotic like the Americans… It’s not how we do things here. Oh and btw (by the way) Canada does bad things too. Canada is sometimes REALLY WRONG.” (Emphasis mine)
I admit I couldn’t respond to him – it made me so mad I just didn’t bother. Then just this morning (Sunday, November 6) – a full 1.5 years later, I saw a short video clip on Facebook, highlighting the differences in reaction between Canadians and Americans when it comes to the homeless, and it just hit me emotionally – though I didn’t really get why at first.
I’ve thought about it off and on over the last day, as the impending U.S presidential election was at that time still 2 days away, and on the minds of much of the world. I sat down to just start writing out what I was thinking. Here are my thoughts, in their entity and (almost) completely unedited.
First off, I’d say to that miserable guy that messaged me that day that I’d take the days that Canada has actually been wrong over any day of the week where most countries, including the United States, has been perceived to be RIGHT. (Sorry America, but even you have to admit you really aren’t doing so well lately.)
When I saw the video, I said to myself “THIS is why I love Canada so much, THIS is why I would gladly lay down my life for Her.” When you get past the United States and all it’s “we’re number #1” bravado, many of them will tell you, behind closed doors, late and night, perhaps when few are listening – that CANADA got it right.
Canada was the grand experiment in multiculturalism that worked. We are like a great tent, and inside you’ll find 200 nations sitting down together, breaking bread together, talking together, laughing together, learning together.
There are very few in Canada who can truly say “I am friends only with my own race” – and mean it. Almost no Canadians have premeditated that statement. Very few Canadians would be proud of that statement.
The Bible says in Revelations 22:2 that in the last days of mankind and this world we live on, we would see a “tree of life” planted: “and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”
I’ve heard it said that Canada is like that tree. Of all the nations on earth, and all the flags and symbols and logos and crests of all the nations on earth – our Maple Leaf is one of the simplest, yet most striking and easily identified flags on earth.
That Maple Leaf adorns backpacks and sweatshirts and smartphone cases all over the world today – why? Because those that wear that symbol – Canadians literally on the far flung corners of the world – are walking under a banner of peace and acceptance. The whole world looks to us as “peaceful”, “trustworthy”, “reliable”, “kind”, “giving”, “intelligent”, “determined”, “loyal”, “just”, “dependable” and “humane” – whether it be to fish or fowl, man or women, old or young, black or white, rich or poor, weak or strong.
Why? We aren’t perfect. We suffer from a fringe of fear, a ring of racism, a shadow of suffering. We make mistakes. We quietly wore our patriotism in our hearts, not on our sleeves, for the longest time. We aren’t boasters, we don’t have to be #1, but we’re happy when we are.
I have to say at the same time, where we have erred, where we consistently are wrong again and again…. those issues are predominantly a part of the HUMAN condition, a GLOBAL issue – perhaps something only God Himself can fix on earth.
But when we get it right, we NAIL it. Canada does not “attempt to be good”. Canada “is good”. We don’t “try our best” to help others. We have laid down our lives to fight tyranny around the world, in places we could barely name, couldn’t point to in a map and often can’t even spell like Passchendaele, Vimy Ridge, the Somme, Ardennes, Dieppe, the Scheldt.
In honor of our men and women who fell in foreign battlefields, here is a complete list of all the Canadian War Cemetaries around the world (The sheer number of them alone can cause one to get a bit emotional – I know, so anti-Canadian, right?):
Belgium: Florenville Cemetery | Saint Mary Cemetery
Cyprus: Dhekelia Cemetery
Denmark: Copenhagen Cemetery
England: Brookwood Cemetery | Cheadle-Gatley | Farnborough | Gosport | Hebburn | Helston | Langar | North Luffenham | Portland, Dorset | Royal Naval Cemetery | Radcliffe-On-Trent | Seaton | St. Merryn | Wallasey-Wirral
France: Ars-laquenexy | Bistroff | Choloy | Le Vigan | Lelling | Marville | Metz | Piennes | St. Avold | Y Ravine Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, Beaumont-Hamel – World War I | Givenchy Road Canadian Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais – World War I | Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery, Dieppe – World War II | Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery, Bretteville-sur-Laize – World War II | Bayeux War Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, Bayeux – World War II | Canadian Cemetery No. 2, Pas-de-Calais – World War I | Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Bény-sur-Mer – World War II
Germany: Arnsberg | Dörlinbach | Hannover | Iserlohn | Karlsruhe | Kippenheim | Kuppenheim | Lahr | Rastatt | Rheindalen | Rheinmünster-Söllingen | Werl | Willstatt | Zweibrücken
Netherlands: Holten | Nijmegen | Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery – World War II
Northern Ireland: Belfast City
Scotland: Arbroath | Glasgow | Lossiemouth
Hong Kong: Sai Wan War Cemetery – World War II | Stanley Military Cemetery – World War II
South Korea: United Nations Memorial Cemetery
We make mistakes – and we are men and women enough to admit it, putting us at the top of the list worldwide. That’s why at least 6 years in a row, in a survey of 37,000 people around the world, CANADA was named either #1 or #2 most “trusted” nation on Earth by the Reputation Institute.
I would rather see Canada be most “trusted”, than most: feared, powerful, useless”, or the “richest, largest, densest, angriest, cheapest, weakest, dumbest, greediest, rudest” people on earth.
When the world talks about universal health care, a social safety net, taking care of those less fortunate, they think of Canada. When they think of natural beauty, some of the most photographed places on Earth, their minds will drifted to Lake Louise, Banff, Prince Edward Island, 1000 Islands, the limitless canvas of a prairie sky, Vancouver, Halifax, and so many more.
We are the only nation on earth that is almost universally recognized – frankly, it’s often even the punchline of a few jokes – that we will apologize even when someone else walks into us.
It says a lot about our natural tendency to prefer others, to defer to others, to downplay ourselves. Our chivalry isn’t what it used to be, but it also isn’t what it could be if we grabbed our passport and flew to almost any other nation on earth.
Canada is VERY different than every other country. There is a sense of peace that envelopes this country. Nothing quite feels at home like…home. Though I suppose that’s true no matter where you live, when people think if immigrating to another country, 300,000 a year come here first. Yep, even to the cold cities. They determined that they would even trade surf for snow blindness, +40 for -40, densely packed cities to miles of endless sky.
Why? The Statue of Liberty may symbolize freedom – and has for millions. But where do AMERICANS want to go when the chips fall even on the US? What ONE NATION ON EARTH do they wanna flee to when they no longer can trust their own government anymore? The beaches of CanCun, Puerta Vallerta and many more down south?
HELL NO, 95% of them think of CANADA FIRST. How many times have we heard in 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and now 2016: “if such as such becomes President, I’m moving to….”
Honduras? Bali? Bermuda? Jamaica? Argentina? Brazil? Fiji? No no, they want to VISIT those. But if they had to flee and wanted to be safe and feel secure again….they would MOVE to Canada.
Because deep down they know – we GOT IT RIGHT. We keep getting it right. And we will always be here to get it right for THEM when they need it. And the best thing of all – they’ll never know we even think it. We will keep treating other people like they matter more, like they are better, like we are so glad they are here.
They won’t be put off by our patriotism and no one will ever be fearful of our flag or despise our democracy. Those things are the reason why they will come, do come and are already HERE.
But deep down, just between us Canadians, we know what’s REALLY going on.
And we breath a silent prayer of true thanks right now (which is the Canadian way) to the God we love for continuing to bless the Dominion of Canada from sea to sea to shining sea.