A Blogger in My Neighbourhood

At the beginning of this year, I discovered the whole GeoURL thing which allows one to find other bloggers who are located within a 500 miles radius. I never posted the link to “the bloogers next to me” because, frankly, I found the list too depressing. There seems to be surprisingly few bloggers in Atlantic Canada — something that Renaissance Grouch bemoaned a while ago — but most who did appear on the list …well …weren’t that interesting to me (as I’m sure aMMusing isn’t that interesting to them).

One notable exception was Prince Edward Island resident Peter Rukavina’s blog, Reinvented, which I visit from time to time. Today, however, I followed one of Peter’s blogroll entries and discovered another very interesting PEI blogger, Organizational Architect Rob Paterson.

Several months ago, before I began blogging, I got in a bit of a row with an American blogger. After a public spat, we exchanged a few e-mail messages, and made peace by agreeing that we essentially disagree on everything and that there was no point in antagonizing each other. At one point during this e-mail exchange, however, my adversary asked me this:

Why are Canadians so goddamn free to trash my country, but can’t take it when the mere suggestion of disagreement with theirs occurs? It’s really pissing me off lately, and I’m tired of holding my opinions back out of respect for others when they can’t seem to show me the same.

I chose not to give much of an answer to this question because doing so would open up an enormous can of worms. A proper answer would require an essay. Also, the question raises an undeniable fact: Many Canadians do indulge in sanctimonious, holier-than-thou but not always well-grounded criticism of the United States.

Since that exchange, the U.S. and a small handful of countries — the use of the word “coalition” is deceitful at best — have waged a war on Iraq, toppled Saddam Hussein (a good thing) and created a power vacuum that remains nearly one month after the fall of Baghdad. Also since then, Paterson wrote “Why Canadians Fear America,” a blog entry I wish existed so that it could offer my adversary some insight on some of the root causes of many Canadians’ sentiments towards the United States. Those sentiments are not the result of simplistic, narrow-minded anti-Americanism, as Paterson notes. “I think most Canadians see these actions [threats of retaliation for not supporting the pre-emptive strike on Iraq, the reneging of trade agreements, and the undermining of Kyoto and the World Court of Justice] as Bush/neocon excess, and not representative of the views of Americans.” I certainly count myself among those Paterson calls “most Canadians.”

I roll my eyes whenever some Americans dismiss criticism with the suggestion that the critics are merely jealous of America’s freedom and prosperity. I believe we are much freer today in Canada compared to the United States, and, as Paterson points out, “By every standard except GDP, Canadian living standards are higher than those in the US.” He also hits the nail on the head by suggesting that fear (of American unilateralism and hegemony) is the force behind a lot of the criticism from Canada and elsewhere in the world.

I only wish people like my adversary could put down their defensiveness long enough to read through an article like Peterson’s and think for a moment what the world looks like through the eyes of the Other