I wrote this entry last week and later realized how well it contrasted with my post “Rainbows” from two days ago. On the one hand, I advocate shattering rainbows and creating kaleidoscopes. On the other, however, I’m staunchly “not American.” Maybe I need to take some of my own advice.
Last weekend at a bar, a man asked if I was Chinese.
“No, I’m Canadian,” I answered.
“Oh!” he slurred as soon as I began to speak. “You’re American!”
“No,” I said.
He opened his mouth to say something, but another woman leaned in and said, “He’s going to say it’s the same thing.”
“You’re right!” he leaned in towards her. “You and I must be soul mates.”
“Then you’re an idiot,” I said as I walked away.
I didn’t realize that geographic proximity makes two countries identical. So South Africa is basically the same as Namibia or Botswana or Zimbabwe, right?
Not that I expect any intelligent conversations at a bar. For example, also last weekend, a man told me, “You’re the hottest girl I’ve seen in two weeks!”
“WHAT?” I burst out laughing. “Is that even compliment?”
“I changed jobs two weeks ago,” he explained.
I couldn’t stop laughing – how else do you respond to something so ridiculous? He didn’t like my reaction and said, “I take it back! You’re not hot! You’re not hot at all!”
“Do you honestly think I fucking care?” I giggled.
Too good! I couldn’t make something up like that if I tried.
But let’s get back to Canada versus America. If I get distracted by stupid and/or funny bar stories, I’ll write pages and pages of irrelevant anecdotes without even skimming the surface of my collection.
Canada and the United States have always had a close relationship – if not somewhat up and down (http://www.mytowncrier.ca/anti-americanism-at-its-peak.html) – but that’s different from having similar socioeconomic or political platforms.
Canada: welfare state
US: doesn’t even have public healthcare
US: continually at war
Canada: mostly a peace-keeping country, despite Harper’s efforts
Canada: now exports more wood to China than the US
US: outsources most of its manufacturing so doesn’t care
US: since WWII, has seemed intent on generating international hostility
Canada: since its formation, has tried to remain inconspicuous so that no powerful nations realize we’ve got tons of natural resources, from water to diamonds to oil
On the one hand, I have harsh opinions of Canada. I complain about Harper, Vancouver’s affordability crisis, Aboriginal disempowerment, Harper, our military presence in Afghanistan, the Enbridge pipeline, Harper, and more. But I still love living in Canada, whereas I could never live in the United States – despite the better climate.
Why? Tons of reasons, but the #1 explanation: warmongering.
In sum, if you continually bomb another country and kill their civilians, not only the people of that country but the part of the world that identifies with it will increasingly despise the country doing it. That’s the ultimate irony, the most warped paradox, of US discourse on these issues: the very policies that Americans constantly justify by spouting the Terrorism slogan are exactly what causes anti-American hatred and anti-American Terrorism in the first place. The most basic understanding of human nature renders that self-evident, but this polling data indisputably confirms it.
So, no, despite my accent I’m not basically the same thing as an American.