Saturday, July 02, 2016

Not the Greatest? . . . Maybe, but Still the Best! (By Peter A. Black)

The following text is an adaptation of P-Pep! article published in The Standard Guide Advocate June 30, 2016.
Canada – the greatest country in the world! (Really?)
Having or being the greatest nation isn’t the exclusive claim of the USA; it is also said of Canada. Modest Canada lovers might be less effusive and counter: I wouldn’t go that far, but even if Canada’s not the greatest it’s still the best! Fair banter.

O Canada! O Canada!
Canada so free;
Bless’d jewel of the nations fair,
Our home of liberty.
Those lines are the chorus of a patriotic song I composed in 1997, marking the 130th Anniversary of Confederation. Canada rode high in the international scale of the most desirable countries to live in, then. We’re not scoring so high now, but ours is still one of the most desirable countries in which to live.

National pride can be a fickle thing. The way it is expressed by any nation could be viewed as though on a spectrum from benign sentiments and benevolent creeds and deeds, to diabolical ideologies and destructive deeds and creeds.
A couple of basic examples: A mild form of national pride is expressed with benignity and benevolence through Canada’s granting religious and civil freedoms and striving for harmony and equality, while providing international aid and receiving refugees.

We recently saw an extreme, twisted form of national pride in the vicious murder of British Member of Parliament, Jo Cox – a wife and mother of two children. And why? Seemingly because she favoured and promoted Britain’s staying in the European Union (in view of the then pending “Brexit” referendum whether Britain should stay or leave the EU).
Jo Cox’s murder quickly faded into the background in the political upheaval that’s still unfolding in the wake of the “leave” side’s win – but not for her husband and children. No doubt their hearts continue to grieve deeply for their wife and mother.

Similarly on the negative, both WWI and WWII were to a great degree initiated by diabolically destructive expressions of personal and national pride. We also see despicable prideful expressions in mindless hooliganism, when violence and destructive looting break out at major league soccer matches (especially in the UK and Europe) or other major sporting events.

Let us keep our gaze raised to see and perceive the positive and wholesome. And now that we’ve entered our nation’s 150th anniversary year, it would be a positive and worthy exercise to ask ourselves why we love Canada. What are we proud of in a ‘good national pride’ way?
Three Big Chips off the Small Block
Introducing and maintaining the element of gratitude helps me to keep pride in its place.

Someone might say, “Peter, you and May must be really proud of _____” (naming any of our three sons). Or they might refer to one of our grandkids. My response will often go something like: “That’s kind of you to say. Yes, I’m gratefully proud . . .” 
What I mean is that any pride I have on account of accomplishments or qualities in Jay or Chris or Jerome’s life, is tempered by gratitude. Grace and mercy are involved, so I don’t take the credit.

Tho’t: Gratitude is benign and leads to beneficence.
Now let us reframe the question:

Signing pose, after the crowd left! :)
a) Despite Canada’s many challenges and imperfections, for what aspects of our beloved country are you gratefully proud? (Gather a pretty big bouquet!)
b) What is greatness, anyhow? Or, in what should a nation’s greatness consist?

My Beloved and I are gratefully proud of Canada – still the best!

The concluding verse of Psalm 144 says, “. . . happy are the people whose God is the LORD” (NRSV).
A Happy and Blessed 150th Anniversary Year to you and your loved ones!


~ Raise Your Gaze ... Mindful Musings of a Grateful Heart

~ Parables from the Pond




Eleanor Shepherd said...

Peter, according to what I read on the Internet, Canada is ranked as the second best country in which to live, only surpassed by Germany, I am certainly glad that I was born here, not that I had any choice. However, I feel extremely blessed to be Canadian. Thanks for your good comments.

Peter Black said...

Thanks Eleanor. I'd heard in the media that in some aspects we'd slipped the ratings.
However, my guess is that ratings will be based on data gleaned from specific areas included in particular studies, and that there will be variable results depending. Still, I'm glad that Canada welcomed my family and me as immigrants, and that Canada was our choice. :) ~~+~~

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

Thank you for your reflection on Canada and for a little insight into Brexit. Like Eleanor, I was born and grew up here. The few times I've been out of the country for vacation, I have always been glad to return home.. to Canada.

Glynis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Glynis said...

Thanks, Peter, for this contemplative piece. As you know I am like you - a transplanted Brit now proud to be a Canadian citizen. We can focus on the negativity - because there is plenty - but spending time realizing all the blessings is where I choose to expend the energy I have left.
And I think you said it best when you concluded with Psalm 144! That really is the best place to live! ;)

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