Readers Write: Canadians Do It Better

Do you have an opinion about something you've read on AlterNet? Write a letter to the editor.

Editor's Note: These letters are all in response to the story "Oh Dear" by Molly Ivins.

Are They Less Arrogant?
Just a quick note to thank you for taking the trouble of sharing a few thoughts about the Canadian perspective for your readers recently.  Canada does not usually make the news in the United States. Your column thus stood apart.

One theory of why Canadians and their foreign policy might be a little bit more outward looking is that we consider ourselves to be a “middle power,” not a superpower.  Consequently, we see ourselves as one of a stakeholder in global affairs, with other countries whose interests are deserving reconciliation in something as close to consensus as possible.  To the Canadian mindset, merely get one’s way because you “can” (as opposed to it being a reasonable and just outcome) is not comfortable.  

Interestingly, I think that many countries in the world have this view, even amongst the more powerful.  Perhaps the reason that Americans are sometimes dismissive of the opinions of another country is that many Americans think that other countries don’t have their own act together – so who are they to give advice.  What some Americans don’t realize is that military power and corporate muscle is not the only measure of sophistication.  Low infant mortality rates, literacy, assistance for the needy, healthcare and matters of a more human nature are also to be valued, but are less obvious.  Therefore, while an American business commentator might complain that the 4 week vacations of Germans is a sign of excessive unionization or diminishing work ethic, another perspective is that it shows progress for the majority of Germans to have calm respite in a hectic life.  In other words that it’s an achievement by the society to have reached this level. Perhaps if more North Americans actually obtained a valid passport and spent time in Europe and elsewhere, they might be impressed at the intelligence spread around the planet ready to be harnessed for a greater good – but according to a vision that is shared through consensus building, not merely by dictat.

Again, thank you for having said hello from Canada.
Eric Lehner

Are They Smarter?
I felt compelled to send off a quick email to writer Molly Ivins on today's article called "Oh Dear," about polite Canadians and what they think of George Bush. You see, I am one of those polite Canadians that she refers to. Her article is right-on accurate! I live in California, but am still Canadian and all my family still live in Canada. Whenever I visit my relatives, I am always surprised at how informed they are about the world and world news, how embarassed they are for Americans that we have George W. Bush as our president, and yes, how polite they are. I am proud to be Canadian, and I think it is a good thing in this world to be polite. I must add, too, that I have had much of my education in the U.S. – I only had kindergarten and first grade in Canada. However, I will always remember that in first grade in Canada, we had to memorize all of the capitals in the U.S. Does the average U.S. student even know all the names of Canadian provinces, let alone their capitals? No, I don't think so. I am always struck by how little Americans do know about the world and always strive to be as informed as my Canadian relatives. Thanks for a great article!
Barbara Withers Caruso

Are They More Mature?
To Molly Ivins I would like to say: How typically American you are. Such egocentricity to think that Canadians even think about your country at all. We have our own much richer world to keep us occupied. And please don't confuse our knowledge of your country with any special interest in it; it just happens to be that Canadians are an educated nation.

But when we are forced to pay attention to you because of your infantile shenanigans – such as border crossing slowdowns or entering our country searching for recruits for your assault on Iraq – and you are screaming loud enough, it's more a role of our collective eyes and the wish that the neighbouring children would play more quietly and with more dignity.
Renie McKee

How Can We All Act Canadian?
As a Canadian I just wanted to say I enjoyed your article on Canada. I think this is the first time I have read an article by an American, writing about Canada, that describes us well. That is, describes us well in terms Americans appreciate.

Enjoyed the article and the points it made.

As an aside you may want to find a copy of a book by a famous Canadian author, Pierre Berton, regarding this topic. It is called 'Why We Act Like Canadians" and it explains in interesting ways why we differ from the US and where the countries diverged. It is a short 132 pages and is a small book.

In any event the book is a nice evening or two read, without bashing the Canucks or Yanks.

Later, eh.
Rob Marshall

Do you have an opinion about something you've read on AlterNet? Write a letter to the editor. Please include your full name. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.
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