The Americans were promised “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” by their constitution. We Canadians got the much more modest “peace, order and good government”. Whether we’ve had much of the last one over the past few years is up for debate. These two sentences capture a huge difference between Canadians and Americans. Another big difference that harks back to the beginning is that Canadians were loyalists and remained in the Commonwealth. We never threw any tea into a lake or fought a war to get rid of our colonial overlords. Americans on the other hand hated the British and in association big meddlesome government and taxes.
Canada is smaller and often an after thought. We are seen as being overly polite and apparently now really boring. A Canadian tweeter has been complaining about how boring Canada is. First, I don’t think that Canada is that boring. Second, I like living somewhere boring. It’s peaceful and fun. You never get stabbed while walking down the street. You get health care (though no prescriptions, dental work or optometrist visits) and moderately good public schools. People like you when you travel abroad. Life is simple and quiet.
Yes, the Americans are big and powerful but their country has a lot of problems. You have to worry about getting shot by a high powered machine gun wherever you go. You pay obscene college tuitions. There is only a marginal social security system. The US is big and dominant but actually being an American means dealing with a lot of things that make life really hard if you don’t have money.
I don’t understand this trend of questioning things being boring. So far it’s only two people but they’re gotten attention and I’m happy to consider it a trend. The first was The Economist calling Vancouver boring. The argument went it was more fun when Vancouver was dangerous. I mean you can even walk near Hastings and Main and not feel too unsafe. Uncomfortable maybe but not threatened. Other than that block there’s nowhere in the city that’s really unsafe to go. You get hassled by beggars but there’s never that fear of being mugged. It was nice living somewhere I never felt endangered. People want to be safe and live their boring lives. Because let’s face it we are boring and so are most of the things that make our lives a lot nicer.
The winner for me in The Economist argument was that London and New York were more fun when they were more dangerous (because they’re boring and safe too now just like Vancouver). It reminded me of “Down in the Tube Station at Midnight” by the Jam.
The song is about a man getting beaten while waiting for the train. I’d rather live in the London where you feel safe at night than the exciting one where you have to worry about being beaten by thugs. I want to be safe and happy and live my boring life. I want to do it in my boring city in my boring country. Leave the excitement for the Americans.