Some Country. Some Day. Happy Birthday!

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Excerpts from Bob Greene’s: If You Think the U.S. Is Divided and Ugly, Hit the RoadThe beauty of our country as seen from a car window on the 12½-hour drive from New York to Chicago.

…The night before…a former long-haul truck driver who’d told me he hankered to see the Great Lakes again—and asked what were the chances he’d be willing to drive straight from Manhattan to Illinois. He said sure; we worked out a price.

By 8 a.m. we were on the road. You know how divided this country is reputed to be? How ugly things allegedly are? Here’s a suggestion: Cross the United States by road this summer. Take a good look out your window. The country itself is pretty swell—beautiful and vibrant and full of small surprises. We, who live here, may do everything we can to screw things up, but our mutual home brims with moments of random loveliness.

On a busy street corner in Newark, N.J., a mother protectively clutched her daughter’s hand as they waited to cross. In eastern Pennsylvania, the soaring, craggy rock formations by the highway sent a silent message: We were here before you were born and we’ll be here after you are gone. Driving over the Delaware River, with the splendor of the famed Delaware Water Gap below, we caught the first magnificent sight of the Pocono Mountains—and those trees, all those breathtaking miles of ancient trees. Who could ever count them? An impossible task.

In large cities life can seem crowded and claustrophobic. In rural Pennsylvania the overwhelming sensation was of how much open space America still has to offer: the room, if we choose, to spread out, to free ourselves from barking over each other’s shoulders. What must life here have been like before the telephone, before television, before the internet, when people didn’t have thousands of angry and disembodied voices—the voices of strangers—barraging them every day, stirring them up? When the voices they heard belonged, in the main, to their neighbors?… [Read more…]

It’s not that Canadians don’t love their country. I do. Most Canadians do, too. They just love it quietly.

July 1 is Canada’s 150th anniversary, but nobody seems particularly eager to join the party…

The irony is that Canada, at the moment, has a lot to celebrate. Our prime minister is glamorous and internationally recognized as a celebrity of progressive politics. We are among the last societies in the West not totally consumed by loathing of others. Canada leads the Group of 7 countries in economic growth. Our cultural power is real: Drake recently had 24 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time — for one shining moment he was nearly a quarter of popular music. Frankly, it’s not going to get much better than this for little old Canada…

Pierre Trudeau, Justin’s father, articulated Canada’s difference from other countries perfectly: “There is no such thing as a model or ideal Canadian,” he said when he was prime minister in 1971. “What could be more absurd than the concept of an ‘all Canadian’ boy or girl? A society which emphasizes uniformity is one which creates intolerance and hate.”

Nationally, Canada has been spared the populism that has swallowed the rest of the Western world because there is not, and has never been, such a thing as a “real Canadian.” … To lead this country, you must be able to navigate multiple languages and multiple cultures. Our longstanding identity crisis has suddenly turned to a huge advantage — we come, in a sense, pre-broken…

So why is Canada so bad at celebrating itself?…Canadian self-flagellation results always in the same warm, comfortingly smug sense of virtue…It transcends the political spectrum. Whether it is Conservative insistence on frugality and small-town values or the furious outrage of identity politics on the left, everyone has the same point to make: We’re not as good as we think we are, and the government should do something about it…

None of what I have written should be taken to imply that Canadians don’t love their country, or that I don’t love my country. I do. Most Canadians do, too. They just love it quietly…

~ Stephen Marche, excerpts from “Canada Doesn’t Know How to Party” (NY Times, June 23, 2017)

Big Red

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Did you feel this too?

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After great pain, a formal feeling comes—

The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs—

In the days after Paris, Emily Dickinson’s poem kept ringing through my mind as I tried to figure out what I felt—and, surprisingly, didn’t feel. I did not, as the facts emerged and the story took its full size, feel surprised. Nor did I feel swept by emotion, as I had in the past. The sentimental tweeting of that great moment in “Casablanca” when they stand to sing “La Marseillaise” left me unmoved. I didn’t feel anger, really. I felt grave, as if something huge and terrible had shifted and come closer. Did you feel this too?

[…]

I feel certain that in the days after the attack people were thinking: This isn’t going to stop.

~ Peggy Noonan, Uncertain Leadership in Perilous Times


Image: The Economist

Patriots

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Credits:

  • Eric – thank you for the Zeke pic. Rachel wants credit for Zeke/flag background set up. Eric disputes that she had any involvement in the production.
  • Patton from FogsMovieReviews

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?

Canada-Day
Canada celebrates its 147th Birthday today. In a new poll, two-thirds of Canadians say they love their country and what it stands for. I’m among the fervently passionate 2/3rds. Happy Birthday Canada.


Photograph: Al Tuttle

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