For several years now, I’ve been following various Canadian news outlets on Facebook. I regularly read Canadian newspapers online. I explore Canada on maps and read about Canadian villages and Canadian customs. My frame of mind is this: I want to be Canadian. Not one of the new Canadians who are attempting to emulate Trump supporters. No, I want to be one of the innately good, gentle, honestly progressive Canadians who brought Justin Trudeau into the limelight and ushered him in to lead Canada toward the light. I want to be a citizen of the gentle adult country that exudes respect and decency, all the while showing its adventuresome face and its wacky side to the world. Canada. The country that understands conversation and debate. The country that values decency in human interaction so much more than does my own home country. Could it be that I’m romanticizing Canada? Is it possible that I overlook ugly flaws that would, if acknowledged, make me feel less enamored of the land and its people? Not just possible, I suspect, but highly probable. But that’s all right, because when we want something or someone to be the epitome of goodness, we behave as if they’ve already achieved that state of grace. We don’t ignore the breaches of decorum. We express our disappointment privately and do our best to encourage and reward corrected behavior.
But I’ve seen signs that the pedestal upon which I’ve placed my wished-for homeland has cracks. And seeing those cracks, caused by negligence and abuse, makes me angry. The vision of those faults recalls the signs of the irreversible damage that would befall my own country years ago when the beacon of democracy began its inevitable decline into a failed partisan state. The decline of civilization, it its entirety, began several millenia ago. The speed with which its dissolution is taking place has increased dramatically since the world chose to romanticize the monstrosity that we now call World War II. If we’d only acknowledged from the outset that a cataclysmic event that ended with the annihilation of thousands of innocent civilians in a nuclear holocaust could be considered no less than evil in its most base and fundamental form, we might have escaped. But, no, we treated victory in the ward as if it were sainthood, rather than a chance outcome of a demonic savage rite of passage.
Decent places, good cultures…they’re being savaged by humanity’s inability to comprehend its responsibility for its own victimhood. Canada. Iceland. Sweden. Finland. Denmark. And what of the goodness hidden behind ugly masks in Africa? There’s decency there, too. And in South America and throughout Asia. But decency’s decline began at home. Human society ultimately deserves to be swallowed by the Earth upon which it played out. And it will be done.
If only I could slink away to a quiet corner of Canada and live out my days in peace as the world collapses around us all. I have a friend who lives in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. That seems like a good base from which to watch the demise of civilization, surrounded by neighbors who care about one another and the little piece of the planet they inhabit. They, too, will be expunged from the planet, likely in a hot, dense haze of greed and larceny. But it may take longer for them to go than for North Dakota and Washington, DC and Harare.
We all want to hold out hope. Hope and prayer, together, are giving us school shootings and entire territories of the United States wallowing in agony without electricity. Hope is allowing corrupt politicians to gorge themselves on the fruits of the labors of people they deride. Hope is an illusion without substance. Violent overthrow, not only of government, but of humanity itself, is nature’s way of putting hope in its place.
And with that cheery note, I bid the world good morning.