Monday, July 7, 2008

Reflection on being Canadian

I admit it. I'm proud to be a Canadian. Proud. Blessed. Happy.
Proud to be born in a country known for it's peaceable, supportive spirit.
Blessed to have a passport that is welcome everywhere. (Actually, my passport has expired, but that's not the point!)
Happy to come from a land with a history of many social programs that support all our citizens.

Our flag is loved everywhere. Some non-Canadians have been known to sew our flag on their luggage instead of their own for the good will they know they will encounter.

We are known world-wide for our skill and passion for peacekeeping.

Our scenery and wide-open spaces are the envy of many.

Our leaders had the courage to apologize to our First Nations people for past atrocities.

Our openness to people of all cultures is world renowned.

So, a lot of this surfaced during our recent Canada Day celebrations. As I was waiting with thousands of others for the fireworks to begin, I had a great conversation with a visitor from Kuwait. his son is attending school here, and he and his family had come for a visit. He commented very positively on Canada's reputation as a source of help and assistance internationally, not conflict. (As an aside, his name is Abdul which means 'Worshipper'. What a great name!)

I was struck with the value of freedom as I wandered among thousands of people, many of them teenagers.
--freedom to dress any way they chose (including t-shirts with questionable messages).
--freedom to be drunk in public (not that they were allowed to drink in public, but many of them had obviously had a few before they came.)
--freedom of speech, although the choice of vocabulary was not a strong point!

No, I didn't appreciate the noise level on the bus (including four letter words, etc.), but I value the fact that we have the freedom to say what we want.

No, I don't like to see our flag dragging on the ground as someone's cape, but I'm glad they are proud enough of it to wear it.

The balancing truth also relates to freedom: Freedom is a privilege, usually won through great effort on someone's part.
For that reason, it should be, even must be treated with respect. Otherwise, it will disappear without notice until it is too late.
For example, the democratic right to vote and have a say in the decisions our politicians make needs to be exercised, or the few who actually make the decisions will not reflect the will of the people.
Freedom of speech is a right and privilege. If abused, it may be curtailed and those whose point of view needs to be heard may be muzzled.

So, honor the flag. Recognize that the freedom it represents has been won by much effort, over many generations.

God keep our land, Glorious and Free!

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