Opinion – Olympic opening speaks volumes

Vancouver 2010 Inukshuk: janusz l / Janusz Leszczynski

This commentary also appears at Earthpages.org

Last night’s Olympic opening ceremony wasn’t my top priority. I wasn’t going to bother watching it but realized I should see what my country was up to.

After all, I graduated in sociology and should know how the Canadian Olympic officials chose to represent this country to the world.

I suppose considering the budget they did a pretty good job. But what I found sort of bush-league was how the emphasis fell on Canada’s greatness instead of the greatness of Olympic Sport.

When doing graduate work in India in the late 1980s I saw a similar phenomenon. Anything of merit in India was pumped up to emphasize how “world class” that country was.

Canada is much the same.

This might be a sign of some kind of grand national insecurity. I mean, if you’re really the best you don’t have to talk about it. You just do it… and most everyone gets that you’re number one.

Having said that, I am proud of some of the claims made about my country last night. I believe we are miles (oops kilometers) ahead of many other lands in terms of forging a working and peaceful cultural mosaic.

It’s easy to talk about the wonders of multiculturalism when you’re banning religious groups from your country or beating up on minorities. It’s quite another thing to actually live peacefully with many different kinds of peoples (and their divergent beliefs) in close proximity.

That’s probably what I’m most proud of. And it’s probably the future of not only Canada but hopefully the world.

So why the lingering social insecurity? Is it because the US media tends to ignore and sometimes mock us? And if so, who cares?

From my experience the Americans worth interacting with see past all that, just as the Canadians worth interacting with don’t construct an identity by saying “we’re not the US.”

How boring!

Defining oneself as Canadian by saying “we’re not America” is also a bit thin and hypocritical. Canadian media anchors, for example, often jump at the chance to appear ‘cool and hip’ by being on Twitter and Facebook.

Uh… what country developed those social media? Or WordPress, for that matter?

So let’s get real. Canada does get a lot of things right but also depends on the USA and many other countries to stay afloat.

It’s an international world. So why don’t we all start thinking that way?



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