I have been on a tear of this stuff recently. Most of it is due to the fact that FARK.com has been posting articles written by Richard Gwyn, of the Toronto Star, who set off a firestorm by writing a column entitled “ It’s not our fault we’re morally superior to U.S.” The backlash, of course, is here.
Anyway, this letter is somewhat similar to the one I sent to the “Canada – Switch” guy. It will probably bore you to tears, so don’t read it.
Subject: On nationalities and morals.
Hello Mr. Gwyn,
I would like to commend you, as an American, on your two recent articles on
“Canadian morality”. While I am not very familar with your columns, I ran
across these on a website, and couldn’t help but appreciate what you’ve said.
Don’t get me wrong. I generally don’t mind living in the US. I mean, for all
its bad features (which, alas, are becoming ever more prevalent), it’s still
reasonably safe, and then there’s always the prosperity thing. Truth is,
though, I’d rather live in Canada, for many of the reasons you mentioned.
Time and time again, indeed the one argument I hear from other Americans is
the “fact” that it is easy to be so prosperous in the US… and yes, I am
doing plenty well with my life and career here. However, I’d rather have
comfort in an apparent “modest” prosperity (in their eyes), than riches in a
land of vicious economic and social darwinism.
I have lived in two, very different places in the US: DC and Tennessee, the
former being my hometown and current residence, the latter being the location
of my alma mater. Now, the spoken word and musician Henry Rollins once wrote
about being “smashed to bits by the brutality of the east”. He’s completely
right, the whole eastern seaboard is utterly abrasive. It’s the place to be,
if you want to make your money, but seriously, is that really living? I had a
Russian roommate in college who recently moved up here. It only took him a
year to quickly come to the conclusion that people here “have no souls!”
Now Tennessee, on the other hand, while it still retains veins of prejudice
flecked with the plaque of hate, is still generally gregarious in nature.
People can be very friendly and helpful there. In fact, I considered staying
for good… until I realised it was quite difficult to make any sort of
living. I’ve got friends who have, very recently, come to the same conclusion
after trying it out. They’ve now moved up here.
The above text is the most easily available descriptive I can give, to
articulate the dichotomy here in the US. While it I apologise for writing
such a lengthy diatribe, I did so to illustrate contrast between what is found
in the US, and what is found in Canada.
This is not to say that Canada doesn’t have its poor towns. However, from the
time I have spent there, it has been readily apparent to me that there is
still much more of a balance that can be struck, regarding prosperity and
ethos, in your nation than mine. Now, “morality” is always a sticky word –
at least here, where it conjures up images of the Christian Right (which, as
the musician Moby has stated, “is neither”). I’ve always tended to emphasise
the need for a human “ethic” than a “morality”. But regardless of how the
word is interpreted, you’re generally correct, regarding the lack of such in
the US. At very least, prosperity and ethics do make for strange bedfellows
here. A rarity, indeed.
In any case, I’ve been looking very intently at moving to Canada in recent
months. However, with the most recent immigration laws enacted, it is quite
an unfortunate circumstance that I don’t meet the criteria that Mr. Coderre
and friends consider necessary to immigrate. It further saddens me that
Canada welcomes me with open arms, to spend my American dollars — usually
within the stores themselves — but won’t let me stay permanently, to get my
hands dirty, to help Canada prosper.
I don’t wish to come across sounding like an arrogant American who, in all his
braggadocio and swagger, feels he deserves any special treatment, in his
efforts to enter and remain in Canada, based solely on his citizenship.
Indeed, perhaps Canada truly should hold the US to the same standard as any
other country, lest some of its more unappealing traits and beliefs leach
through. But I guess, in the end, it all boils down to the fact that there is
a handful of us that believes and dreams about living in a moral nation, a
handful who is watching that concept erode here, and who truly respect our
neighbours to the North.
And yes, some of us would rather be there.
Thanks for some great reading, and thanks for taking time to read my letter.