Thursday, February 14, 2008

Don't Wanna Be A Canadian Idiot

This is another convergence - a True Story From One Of My Jobs and Another Reason Why People Don't Talk To Me. Funny how often those collide.

Canada Day was fast approaching, and empowered individuals at my workplace had decided that having ostensible adults play dressup was an appropriate observation. We were encouraged to wear any red and white clothing and accessories that we could think of.

Some people got way into the spirit of the occasion. Face paint was involved. I had thought such fervor reserved for watching steroid users do various things with balls of various types, but there you go.

As the astute reader may have surmised, I was not interested in participating, so I didn't. I didn't deliberately avoid the colours of the day, since doing so would be allowing the "festivities" (Whee! Red pants!) to control my behaviour just as much as those who had cheerfully festooned themselves into looking like bloodstained snowbanks. Since red and white are not particularly common in my wardrobe, however, it was obvious that I hadn't made any effort.

I was quickly confronted by one of the office cheerleaders, demanding to know why I hadn't dressed up like everyone else. Oddly enough, I don't remember when I explicitly agreed to justify my every decision, down to how I dress in the morning, to this person, but I clearly must have at some point. Because if I hadn't, for them to tackle me with such indignance would seem presumptuous to the point of insane, wouldn't it?

Anyway, I gave them the first response that popped into my head: "When I was at college, the other people in my dorm liked to get together in the TV room, put an Eddie Murphy movie in the VCR, and take a drink every time he swore. I didn't do that either."

This didn't satisfy them. Puzzle, mystify, befuddle, yes; satisfy, no.

I gave a more nuanced explanation, outlining a slippery slope theory. Ostentatious displays of patriotism make me nervous. It starts with "Our country is great", then it moves to "We must be great", then it moves to "Those people over there must not be quite as good", and before long the masses are applauding as racial purity laws are passed.

My assailant - whose actual work duties must have been even lighter this day than mine - went from puzzled to offended. However, they also went to the defensive: "Oh, lighten up. It's all in fun."

Me: "Yep, it's all fun and games until they start rounding up the Jews."

I've since realized that I really need to get that printed on t-shirts. Silkscreeners, call me!

Enough rambling. Here's a picture of some otters.


Anonymous said...

I am a very proud Canadian... VERY proud. Having lived in the U.S. often does that to Canadian citizens! While quite a few of my friends were American citizens, there was a group of "Internationals" who visited together on a regular basis (this group included people from Africa, Europe, Asia, Canada, the Caribbean, and U.S. citizens who had spent much of their formative years in other nations, such as missionary kids). It was during one of these visits that we ended up talking about the irritating hyper-nationalistic, over-patriotic attitude of many Americans - not ALL Americans, may I make clear - but enough of a percentage to really make us wonder. Our discussion brought us to the point where we were asking ourselves, just WHAT is the difference? After all, we were all proud of our country; we all thought that our country was the best. So WHY was it that this typically American attitude bothered us? Eventually we figured it out. Yes, we were all proud of our countries and thought they were the best; but we also recognised that people from other nations were perfectly normal in thinking that THEIR country was the best, and in being pround to be a citizen of that nation. Those Americans whose attitudes we found irritating-to-offensive not only were pround to be American and not only thought that their country was the best, but they also were of the opinion that YOU should think that their country was the best, and if you didn't, we, then, there was something seriously wrong with you. I understand your feelings in not wanting to go along with the celebrations in the same manner of everyone else, but as long as a person doesn't take it to that next, dangerous step, there's not a thing wrong with a little patriotic fervour!

Anonymous said...

I'm Proud of YOU!!!! - But you know how I feel about my nationality - whatever the heck that really means.