KAMLOOPS — This is, if you hadn’t noticed yet, Canada’s 150th birthday. As the year moves along, we’ll all pay a lot more attention to it, and it should be a lot of fun.
It’s not just a time for cutting ribbons and cakes, though, it’s a time to reflect upon ourselves as Canadians, and who we are.
Internationally, we’re known first and foremost as being polite. Trying to figure out if that label is deserved has become an industry, but I happen to think it’s true, or was.
I like the fact that our cultural traditions include opening doors for people and apologizing when something isn’t our fault.
We greet each other with “How have you been?” and mean it, and leave with “Have a great day!”
Even our hockey teams apologize when they have a rotten season. Our police say “please” before asking us to step out of the car.
Still, I worry. Have you noticed people bulldoze their way into elevators ahead of you these days? On the sidewalk, eyes are averted when people pass. We don’t politely and proudly belt out the words to our national anthem the way we once did.
And there’s more road rage — everybody seems to be in a hurry.
We can’t blame everything on the Internet, though it has more than its share of trolls, naysayers, critics, skeptics and cynics.
Recently I published a column from a Saudi Arabian student who wants to further understanding between her culture and ours. She received many welcoming comments except for one — it condemned her culture and her religion and bought into the old fear-mongering about Muslims in a way I found quite disturbing.
Being rude about someone else’s culture and religion and bragging about your own is not the mark of a Canadian.
Maybe it’s just our hurried modern lifestyle, or maybe Canadians are getting bored — bored people become angry people, who direct that anger into resentment of others.
Whatever the reason, I’m convinced we’re losing a good dose of our famous politeness. And that’s one thing that’s not worth celebrating.