Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The very definition of Canadian

Brace yourself ... I'm about to reveal some earth-shattering news.

Not everyone likes sports.

No, no ... it's true. Trust me. I know it's hard to believe. Take a deep breath and we'll continue ...

As these Olympics progress, I see Tweets popping up from people bemoaning the sports-centric world in which they're living right now -- from their Twitter stream to the office water cooler.

The solution is easy, you say. Stop following certain people. Walk away from the conversation. Turn the channel.

Not quite so ... not when your peers accuse you of being un-Canadian.

Yes, the Winter Olympiad are being held in Canada.

Yes, we have a terrific contingent of athletes representing our wonderful nation ... two gold medals so far, even!

And yes, they've worked their asses off to get to this stage, this pinnacle of all things athletic. They rightfully deserved our support.

But would we be any less Canadian if we didn't give a rat's derriere about the Olympics?

Am I less Canadian because I don't much care to watch luge, skeleton, bobsled or downhill skiing, even though I'll cheer for their finish and weep at their medal ceremony when I hear my favourite song, our national anthem?

Maybe it begs of us to define what is Canadian.

We remember Joe of I Am Canadian fame. The beer commerical sent waves of pride ad mare ad mare ... over beer of all things.

More recently, slam poet Shane Koyczan of Penticton, B.C., featured his Canadian rant at the opening ceremonies.

Comissioned by the Canadian Tourism Commission, the poem taps into many of the emotions we feel when we see our flag raised ... and it reminds us we're more than the nationalistic fervor brought on by the Olympics.

We are cultures strung together then woven into a tapestry
And the design is what makes us more than the sum totals of our history

Within that framework, we have to realize we are more than a Maple Leaf on a hockey jersey, more than the best damned hockey nation on the planet.

We are a country that cares, rushing to the aid of others who are in need.

We are polite. We are humble. We are even a tad shy on the international stage.

It's easy, I suppose, to identify with our athletic accomplishments. It's obvious. It feels good ... this vicarious success we achieve when our athletes receive a medal.

But it's no less Canadian to not want to participate in the fooforall, especially as we roar to the rooftops this fortnight with our pride at our athletes' achievements.

As we change our approach to beating our collective chest with a louder fist, we have to realize that it is very Canadian to have an opinion different from the mainstream and to voice that opinion.

In light of that, in fact, it strikes me as very un-Canadian to not be accepting of someone who exercises those abilities and dares to stand out among the crowd.

So now I ask of you, what does being Canadian mean to you?

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