Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Do We Have Heroes in Canada?

First, a little self-promotion. My column on Canadian history runs for the first time in The Christian Herald, scheduled to be out November 9th. If you live in Southern Ontario, I hope you will pick up a copy of The Christian Herald and let the editor know what you think. Don't forget to email me your comments, too!

Thank you fellow Word Guilder, Denyse O'Leary, for encouraging me to write the proposal and to send it out to an editor, instead of 'wishing' someone would swoop down and offer me an opportunity. Thank you Fazal Karim, editor at The Christian Herald, for believing in the proposal and publishing my column.

Thank you everyone who has read my writing and said, "I didn't know Canada had stories like that." You inspire me, even when you send me back to the archives looking for answers to your questions.

A few days ago, a young Canadian emailed me with a challenge. "Can you find me any heroes in Canada? I didn't think we had any," he said.

I have to say, this saddened me quite a lot because the young man is university educated and has a great thirst for knowledge. Yet, he thought this country offered him no examples of great Christian leaders. How could we have failed to make him proud of his heritage?

It excited me too, because it is clear that he really wanted to learn about his own history. So, I typed off a list of names including General Currie, Laura Secord, Bishop John Strachan and about a dozen more. I'm still digging and sending him names when they pop into my mind. (I may have a write a whole book to answer his question because Canadian heroes don't often have monuments dedicated to them and, in my mind, that makes them even more heroic.)

Canada has more than her share of heroes, living and dead. Some of them are rich, famous, and politically powerful. Many eschew adulation.

Too often, we look at other countries longingly and wish we had their heritage, their political leaders, their wealth. (The wealth thing baffles me, because we are often wealthier and have less debt than the countries we look toward.)

It is good to admire and learn from people in other countries. If we can't do that, we become insular and backward in our thinking. But not knowing that we have our own heritage of faith and bravery and, instead, wishing we had leaders who were more like foreigners we see only on television screens is deeply ungrateful to our forebears. It is deeply unfair to our children, who need to be inspired to do great things. And it allows us to think that we can rely on other countries to 'carry the gospel, heal the sick, and bring justice to oppressed.'

Jane Harris Zsovan writes in both mainstream in Canadian publications about faith, business, arts, and contemporary Canada. She is the author of Stars Appearing: The Galts' Vision of Canada. She contributed "Jessie's Generation: Canada's Firebrands of Mercy and Justice" to Hot Apple Cider: Stories to Warm the Heart and Stir the Soul. Jane writes Vision of Canada Blog, on contemporary and historical Canada.

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