Saturday, July 02, 2005

The Canada I cherish

A gin-swilling blasphemer, mystical and private Trevor Lautens used be a columnist in the Vancouver Sun when I was a kid. I used to deliver it door to door back when it was still an afternoon paper (back when there still was such a thing). The Western Standard has reprinted his Canada Day column for this year. Reading it over reminds me why I always liked him. It reminds me also of how my grade eleven English teacher wrinkled his face when I told him that. Lautens concludes the column with this:
Dismiss all this as an old man's grumbling if it makes you feel better -- or the mutterings of one who confuses happier times with his youthful self, an argument I grant has some merit. But, when not in danger of being overheard, people of my generation agree with me that it's not just rosy nostalgia for youth. Objectively, life in Canada really was better before the Hippies and the Me Generation and Generation X, and even, amazingly, human rights commissions and liberal judges secretly terrified of their ambitious and even-more-liberal young law clerks. One finally learns that a single act of personal kindness and civility that lightens a heart and makes life more endurable is more virtuous than an act of Parliament. (To quote myself: All great crimes begin in committee.) One also learns -- a subversive belief, unpopular and deserving of quick suffocation lest it gets around -- that the displacement of God and enthronement of Man has had only dimly understood but devastating social consequences. To think that we are the universe's highest beings should fill us with the greatest alarm and dread if we look around and, especially, inward. (This, as I always feel obliged to state, from a non-Christian, non-church-going, gin-swilling blasphemer. But that doesn't mean I'm stupid.) So other hands will have to wave the flags tomorrow. The Canada I cherish -- still -- is a private and mystical one, somewhere up that backyard slope of wild greenery, where a chickadee announces his pert importance over a flower born to blush unseen.

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