Saturday, December 31, 2016
The Hideous Year 2016 and the Last Cheerful Nation.
Well the cursed year 2016 is almost over, and like the rest of you I'm rushing off to the year 2017, to try escape the dying old man's murderous scythe.
And this will be my last post for a while, because I'm leaving for Montreal in a couple of hours, and I fear I might not be in shape, or sober enough, to write anything for the next few days.
But before I go, I want to try to cheer up progressives for the last time this year.
By pointing out that even in this grim 2016, there were some things to celebrate.
Even if he wasn't one of them.
And remind everybody that while the media in our information overloaded society can sometimes make the world seem like a nightmare.
Hope is a slave to news; we should never forget it. And news has always been bad. Its currency is unspeakable horror, with hatred and doom darkening every horizon. News defies us to peer through the gloom and ever see light ahead.
The march of human progress continues.
Five years ago, the American scientist Steven Pinker wrote a book The Better Angels of Our Nature, seeking to compute the gains and losses of humankind over recent centuries. His sum was overwhelmingly positive – and despite “miserabilist” critics has stood the test of time.
Violence, said Pinker, has vastly diminished. Both inter-state and civil conflicts are less common, and less deadly, than at any time in history. The chance of dying a violent death is a tenth of what it was just half a century ago. Starvation and plague have almost been eliminated and indeed make headlines when they occur. Life expectancy has soared, along with female emancipation, literacy, health, access to water, power and electronic communication. How can that not be a source of hope?
So if we don't destroy it, and can drive those who would torch it from power, we can still hope for a better world.
And the best thing is that no country has more reason to be hopeful at this time than does Canada.
For as author Stephen Marche points out, fate has made us the last cheerful nation.
When Donald Trump won the U.S. election in November, Canada became the last major western democracy to still believe in multiculturalism, Toronto author Stephen Marche said, calling Canada the “last cheerful nation” and suggesting that, for the first time in history, the national political identity is unique in the world.
In a world where so many countries are roiling with hatred, and under siege by right-wing extremists, our humble but precious Canadian values have so far saved us from that fate.
And we now have a chance to promote those values in a world that needs them badly.
For Marche, Canada’s rejection of ethnic nationalism and embrace of multiculturalism has left the country in a unique position in an increasingly closed-off world. For the first time, Canada’s political identity is distinctively its own and not a reflection of another government, such as Britain or the U.S.
Or at least have a chance to set a good example by just being ourselves.
So that when we remember this image, which so clearly summed up for me the brutality of 2016..
We can also remember this one of a young Syrian refugee enjoying his first toboggan ride in Canada...
So that we can be grateful that we live in the peaceful Great White North.
And grateful too that we have a young and charismatic leader to take on Trump, and promote the values of tolerance and diversity on the world stage...
For whatever the ghastly old Trudeau haters think, who would turn this country into a place where hope goes to die, nobody at this time can do that better or more effectively than Justin can.
As for me, I have no idea where the journey of life is taking me, or even whether I'll still be living in Canada at this time next year. Or living in this faraway city...
And chasing another dream.
But right now I don't care.
All I know is that it has been snowing in Montreal, and the only journey I care about right now is the one I used to make when I was a student at McGill.
Down the side of Mount Royal through the trees to the edge of the university campus, the round medical building and Pierre Trudeau's art deco mansion.
Just not as fast or as spectacularly as this guy does...
But in the same spirit of living in the moment.
So I can blot all the bad news out, and assuming I don't hit a tree, give thanks for the blessed fact I live in Canada.
The journey continues on Tuesday.
Thanks for reading this blog.
And Happy New Year everybody !!!!