Monday, August 18, 2008

OK--Now I Get It...

We've been on the road two weeks.  Rando's still got some fresh Cocktails with Chris prerecorded for the show this Friday, fear not.  And we'll start production of Roots 'n' Ruckus again as soon as I get back home after Labor Day.  But it feels like we've been gone a long time. Canada is, although geographically nearby to those of us in the Northern US, a genuine Foreign Land.  We're really a long way away.  And it took me a while to get that.

Canada is what America could be, and what we aren't because we are too full of ourselves, perhaps a bit too unwilling to change, and probably too greedy.  So I was stumbling over my old ALM high school French in Quebec, and finding their accent (which is indeed as thick as the French French complain it is) a bit impossible.  Big deal.  I should have prepared more.  

Imagine respecting folks enough in the US to accept the fact that they might want to speak a language other than English.  Imagine letting go of the jingoism surrounding--say--the way we regard immigrants from Spanish-speaking lands.  In Canada, there is a province where you speak French.  It's the official language there, the language of road signs, the language in which you will be greeted if you make a phone call for a dinner reservation.  Most of the English speakers up here also speak French, the way Europeans speak more than one language. Remember the Separatist movement in the 1970's?  This is part of how it got settled.  Can you imagine something like that in the States?  It boggles, it really does.  And it is a good sort of boggle.

Here, recycling is the law.  And you have to compost, even in city apartments.  You can get a ticket for idling your car.  There's a hefty sales tax...and people can afford their health care.  It's front page news when nursing homes aren't absolutely up to snuff.  And something gets done about it.

We're on Prince Edward Island right now, for two weeks.  It's what Cape Cod would be if folks hadn't been so anxious to make a buck there--which is to say that most of it is totally gorgeous and unspoiled.   

We've been watching the CBC coverage of the Olympics since we got here, and it's way less shiny-new than the NBC coverage, and a lot more honest.  An anchor actually looked up an athlete's blog on his Dell the other night, and the camera man closed in the laptop screen--glare and crappy picture quality and all.  

Broadcasters don't tiptoe around the uncomfortable issues that arise from having the Games in--let's face it--a country whose policies are pretty dern close to being fascist.  The pro-Tibetan protesters from here who got kicked out were big news.   On CBC radio news, there's no sense of slip-sliding around a government that would LOVE to muzzle them--the way NPR sometimes sounds to me, lately.  Yeah, NPR still does some wonderful news coverage...but it's easy to pick out the story that's been included as "balance."

OK, I'm here in the summer.  It's almost eighty degrees outside and sunny and the light is dancing on the lindens outside our cottage.  But this country's looking pretty good to me right now.  I get it.  It's about being honest, sensible--and decent.

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