Monday, July 18, 2005

The North Americans...

G. over at Library Bitch posted a rather wonderful example of why diversity isn't just about human unity;its also about the appreciation of the things that make us different.

G., for those who haven't checked out his blog yet, recently posted an online test to measure one's "Canadianess."

I did, well, absolutely miserable compared to the numerous Canadians who've taken the test, I'm sure.

But it impressed upon me the simple differences that separate North Americans. I've always told friends from overseas that North Americans are closer to each other than anyone wants to admit. I have more in common with the folks on Ontario and Chihuahua culturally than I have with the English, Irish, French, Germans, or Dutch.

We're tied together because we were the cultural experiment that turned on its scientists to carve our own way. Collectively, the U.S., Canada and Mexico have always represented something that the Old World could never muster - the spirit of unity in the face of differing colors, creeds, religions, and backgrounds.

We've lived as together as relatively good neighbors for almost a century. Canada and the U.S. have not fought against each other since 1814, making it one of the world's shining examples of international relations. And Mexico and the U.S., despite the skirmishes between Black Jack Pershing and Pancho Villa, and the Mexican-American War, have shared in a passionate, sometimes heated relationship for more than a century.

Maybe its the vastness of our countries that makes us unique. We're regionalists by nature. We put national pride ahead of many things, but, traditionally, we'll poke fun at the residents of other states and provinces simply because, well, their our countrymen and we have a right to make fun of them. We can do that, because, it most instances, the targets of our jiving are separated from us by hundreds, sometimes, thousands of miles.

Maybe its because our states, territories, and provinces are each, individually, larger than many of the countries from which our ancestors came. Maybe its because we know the rest of the world is very much aware of that fact.

There's something to be said for having space to move around in. Something very magical.

Collectively, North Americans have given the world the mythical bravado of the cowboy and the mystical shamanism of our Native populations. We've given the world literature and song about our battles with nature and the wild frontiers of our own inner struggles. We don't think of ourselves as superior to the Old World that spawned us; we just, collectively and subconsciously know that we've somehow made something better. And we have a right to gloat a bit.

Residents of both Montreal and New Orleans and can thumb their noses at their French founders. What have they given the world lately? North Americans gave the world Leonard Cohen and Louis Armstrong. One can go to cities like Portland, Vancouver, Seattle, and San Francisco, Gauymas, and Cabo San Lucas and experience the world's greatest seafood and dining. One can even drink our whiskies, tequilas, and other spirits without ever craving a swig of vodka or port.

Someone once told me that the key to building a good neighborhood is appreciating good neighbors.

As an U.S. citizen, I think we forget that sometimes, both in our local communities and on our continent.

JWJ

6 comments:

Mexicana 1 said...

Thanks for this post. Yeah, we forget that we're all mixed-up bastards on this continent. Never looked at it that way.

My great-grandfather was one of the Anglo mercenaries who fought down in Mexico against Gen. Huerta. That's how he met my great-grandmother :)

Thanks for the shout-out to Chihuahua. I still have family down there I've never met and OMG! I just realized my Aunt Rosa is married to a Canadian! Damn, dude.
Its so funny too about how we should gloat.

LOL! This South African neighbor of mine once told me that the only thing she ever heard about Americans, Mexicanos, and Canadians was that the guys were amazing in bed. Not sure how she knows that, but it makes me so goddamn proud!

:-)

Okay...just got off my shift...rambling...going to bed now.


Lupe

Anonymous said...

Hey....my bf is Canadian, from Medicine Hat! And he's IS amzing in the sack! LOL Tim I hope you're not reading this. (Blush!)

I spent a month in Europe when I graduated from High School. I remember how friendly Europeans were to me and how cute the guys were. But they were so full of themselves. And they couldn't kiss worth shit.

This Ethiopian girl I work with had a different experience. (Don't know if she's posted anything, but she reads your stuff). She has horror stories about how bad Africans are treated by Europeans, especially the French and Germains. People were friendly towards her but they made her feel like subhuman. It was this arrogance. Europe was fun, but I'd never want to live there. Too much drama!

I agree with Lupe. We should all brag a bit about being from North America!

Stacy, Vegas

G said...

J,

Thanks, man! You're right about differences leading to our ties. Wish the keepers of the Great Melting Pot could read that. Great post.

LibraryTavern Liz said...

Wow, I think I started something when I posted my results from the Canadianess test. But I notice that everybody else seems to be more Canadian than me. I'm starting to feel bad about it. I bet I would score 100% on a How Ohioan are you test. :-(

Ogbuefi Stephi said...

great post.
love the noise art audio clip. my boyfriend does a lot of that kind of stuff, but i like how yours isn't too abstract so that it's still accessible.
count on me visiting your blog more often!
(and thanks for visiting mine!)

Ms. Monkeythong said...

I sent the quiz to a bona fide Canadian and he scored 90/91, though he gets extra credit point because he dad has four Skidoos (snowmobiles).