The Canadian Imagination

What it means to be Canadian; examining and reworking Canada as a nation.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Celebrating

The celebration spilled out into the streets, the buses were detoured, I fished unsuspecting intended passengers from bus stations which were not and pointed them into detoured directions. Someone lost (but not viciously). Someone won (but not crushingly). On a summer evening, it made a good excuse for good spirits. The driver of the bus I am riding as I hand-write this is still a little dazed: he has missed four stops since the time I boarded. So what if the cause for celebration arises from displaced aggression and shared roots with aggressive warfare? In this context it has given a rallying ground for positive identity and something almost approximating good will. Whatever else, it seems to provide a catalyst for happiness at relatively little expense to others: and perhaps, here and now, that is as much as we can manage.

"How are you doing?"
"Not bad. Compared to some parts of the world, quite a bit better than not bad."

Compared to some parts of the world, flag-waving in a country not one's own but which nevertheless smiles and shrugs and accepts ... mostly. Celebration -- at someone else's expense?

There were those who objected -- because it inconvenienced others (meaning them). A short skip detour, a temporary closing off of traffic to prevent unhappy meetings of celebrating pedestrians and automobiles driven by celebrating drivers: this is judged too much personal inconvenience. No joy in the happiness of others -- only that it inconvenienced Me.

So I asked the smokers how they felt about non-smoking flights. Here, it seemed, personal inconvenience at not being able to smoke where and when they wished far outweighed any active risk to others. Many, many more dangerous jobs than having to work in a smoke-filled environment: and there is truth to what is said.

By that argument: why ever change anything? There will always be someone or something worse.

Above all: why -- ever -- give up one single iota of one's own personal convenience to be able to take joy in joy taken by others?

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