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Just this weekend, I posted the final chapters of my novel, Hollie Springwood on this glorious site. Remember that one, it's about a young Canadian woman who relocates to the United States in hopes of finding love and supporting herself, in hopes of seeing her country and the USA come together in peace and harmony? To those who have read it and commented on it, I thank you. But here's something you should know about it.

In the first chapter, I typed an author's note stating that the opinions portrayed by the characters do not necessarily reflect those of the author (me.) Well, that's not entirely true. In the novel, I stressed that seeing us becoming friends with our American neighbours was Hollie's lifelong dream. Well, it's kind of my dream, too.

I started this piece in the summer of 1997, while visting my father's sister, Jaynie Potocky, and her family in British Columbia. One night, when I was forced to watch professional wrestling in their house, I found myself engaged in a small tirade with her youngest sons, Grant and Greg. These two boys were expressively anti-American, and were not afraid to voice out such comments to me, especially Greg (whom I modelled Jesse Springwood after.) Apparently, both Grant and Greg were obsessed with a famous Canadian pro wrestler, Bret "the Hitman" Hart, who was then famous for yelling anti-American slurs in American wrestling arenas (and making me sick in the process.) All three of them thought the same thing -- that all Americans were (and I hate to use a cliche here) the root of all that is evil. Greg and I argued pretty much like Hollie and Jesse did, and I frankly told him that Americans were better than Canadians in hopes of shutting him up. Instead, the whole Potocky family turned on me. That little episode ended with Greg letting me know what he thought of Americans, and inwardly calling me an American lover (such nerve!)

I'm seceretly hoping that all three, especially Bret "the Hitman" Hart, have done a complete attitude makeover towards this issue, two and a half years after the September 11th attacks on America -- though I'm not really counting on it for my Cousin Greg.

But I digress. My argument in this little battle of national superiority (as well as the point of my whole novel) was that not all Americans were as bad as my cousins saw them. Around two motnths before September 11th, I carefully spelled this point out in a letter to the editor that got published on the Canadian news website, CANOE. (www.canoe.ca) Back then, I was deeply concerned with certain issues that were happening in Canada, issues like the E-coli disaster in Walkerton, Ontario; the "hallway medicine" fiasco, and Canadian nurses demanding more payment, and fighting for their right to strike; as well as the problems that Stockwell Day (whom I'm NOT a big fan of) was causing with the Canadian Alliance political party. A tragic Canadian event that I remembered vividly back then happened in Winnipeg in February of the previous year. Two sisters were brutally murdered by a vicious and violent man, and help didn't arrive until it was too late, after around four or five calls, in fact. The people were so upset with the Winnipeg Police Service, that they called for the resignation of its chief, Jack Ewatski. Does anyone remember this? This would make any proud Canadian sick, as they claim stuff like this is typical in cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City and Philadelphia.

And it's not as if our Canadian society is any better than that in the States. Just like Americans, we're dealing with things like crime, gangs, drug and alcohol abuse, prostitutes, various types of pollution, teen pregnancy, families in turmoil, and wild teenagers and pre-teens. And Canada is no stranger to school violence, either; we had a fatal shooting in Taber, Alberta about a month after the Columbine tragedy. Yes, the Taber incident wasn't as severe as that in Littleton, Colorado, but still, this should make you realise that we Canadians have to put away our prideful objections, and stop going to the bathroom, to put it politely, on Uncle Sam. Oh, and did I mention the tragedy that we endured in Manitoba around Christmas in 2001, when RCMP Constable Dennis Strongquill was shot and killed by three young hooligans, Robert and Danny Sand, and Laurie Bell? The Sand brothers were done away with, with Robert in prison and Danny killed, but Bell got off after the trial, according to the press, and Cst. Strongquill's family was outraged. Better living conditions and education systems don't mean anything if we have to put up with stuff like this.

Let's face it, Canadians and Americans might as well just kiss and make up.

For one thing, Canadians and Americans don't disagree on everything. During the war in Iraq, the United States was just as divided as Canada. Some Americans thought their president, George W. Bush, was doing the right thing by sending in troops to get Saddam Huessin out of high office. Others practically agreed with Dixie Chick Natalie Maines when she gave out her controversial opinions about the war. As well in Canada, some Canadians applauded Prime Minister Jean Chretien when he refused to have Canada participate in the war, while others, myself included, lauded this as the most idiotic decision yet. Those who thought the latter were expressively upset that Chretien severely underfunded our nation's military. As well, they didn't like Chretien's reaction to the September 11th attacks, where Chretien thought a fancy dinner, or a golf game, or whatever was on his agenda at the time, was more important than meeting with Bush in New York City. If I were the Prime Minister, my reaction would've been oppositely different.

I don't think that Canada should resort itself to being the "puppy dog" to the United States, but I personally thought it would've been nice if Canada fought alongside the States in the war. I thought they'd be needing us. Also (and you might laugh at this), I secretly hoped that Bush would invite innocent Iraqi civilians to live in the States during the conflict, and volunteering American families would play host to them. Then, the Iraqis would see that Americans were not really "the enemy." We need to be friends, and friends help each other.

I'm not anti-American at all. In fact, I'm as pro-American as a Canadian can get without decorating my house in red, white and blue. Furthermore, I give credit to an American correspondence school, the Long Ridge Writers Group in Conneticut, for further inspiring my writing aspirations. My instructor was a published novelist from Alabama named Venita Helton, and she was a godsend. I credit her for using her expertise to point out various barriers that will keep me from getting published professionally. In one of my assignments, (Segregation Sisters; I posted it on this site under "Short Stories") I wrote about two anti-segregation twin sisters who lose their dignity when they makes friends with a racist classmate. When Ms. Helton criticised this, she told me that I was stereotyping her Southern heritage, and I e-mailed my apologies to her. She still wanted to work with me as a result. I have to respect and treasure this woman highly.

Another American that I have a lot of respect for is former NFL gridiron great, and current pro football analyst, Boomer Esiason. He became the United States' most visible advocate in the fight against Cystic Fibrosis, since starting the Boomer Esiason Foundation in 1993, after his young son's diagnosis with the disease. This non-profit organization has raised more than $22 million for research in helping find a cure, though things like book publishing, marketing products, and sport event planning. I bring this up because -- surprise, surprise -- we Canadians want to find a cure for this life-threatening disease, too. Explain the fact that we started the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. We want to help in their fight, too, right?

And speaking of which, there are also Americans who want to find cures for other life-threatening diseases like AIDS, various cancers, diabetes, STD's and so on. And there are also Americans who want to clean up our environment, who want to find homes for the homeless, who want to donate money and food to struggling, needy families, who want to win the war on crime and drugs, who want to come to the rescue of battered women and children, who want to fight for animal rights -- in short, Americans who want to make this world a better place, and not just for their own benefit. Some use their fame and celebrity status to do this, some don't. I say it's time we Canadians stood up and showed those Americans how much we care for their causes, and want to help them.

And I don't want to hear that Americans don't know anything about us. If you took time to see the whole picture, you'd know there are Americans -- well, educated ones, anyway -- who know some things about Canada and Canadians. There are Americans who know that Canada is more than just beer, bacon and beavers. There are Americans who know that not every Canadian is a lumberjack, hockey player, or pro curler. There are Americans who know that Canadians don't live in igloos, and drive dogsleds to work. These are the Americans who learned all this when they were guests in our country, (sometimes to go camping and take cross-country treks) and lectured and wrote about us in their Social Studies classes. I don't know these Americans personally, so I can't name names.

Which brings me to my next point. Rather than accepting all the negative stuff that the Canadian media says about them, let us as Canadians get up, go to any and all available sources, locate all these considerate, smart Americans, then trek to their hometowns and meet them. You will see that our media is wrong about them.

I fully believe that Canadians and Americans need to come together and live amicably as friends if we are ever to have a better, more peaceful future. Perhaps then, we can be an example to the rest of the world, and all those other countries can revise their negative opinions about the States, too. According to the Bible (for those who read it,) all the world's people are our brothers and sisters. And last time I checked, that still included the Americans.


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Comments

The following comments are for "We Might As Well Just Kiss and Make Up"
by davewriter

it's about time
Americans and Canadians aren't all that different. Hell, your best comedians and musicians move here, so I know we have similar tastes in entertainment. I guess the only difference is that the Canadian media tends to villify the US, while the American media tends to ignore Canada.

( Posted by: evil_bacteria [Member] On: February 27, 2004 )

kiss up?
Hi davewriter; your writing is very specific and articulate. I enjoyed the read, but I found some points lacking or weak for a better word. It would have been (nice) if Canada fought alongside with the states? Maybe diplomatically feasible. When you mention the military you should mention that Canada is a country full of social programs, meaning our money is being spent on other things besides the military, like giving the big boys raises ;) Canada, through our education system is taught about all cultures and countries throughout the term of kindergarden to grade twelve or thirteen depending on where you live, the United States however are not taught in depth about other countries and cultures until they get to higher grades. This I'm quoting from a daughter's friend who went through grade 4 to 10 in Colorado, then moved back to Canada, and other talk through the grapevine, and evil bacteria's comment affirms that;)
Canadians and Americans have always been on friendly terms and will remain so. There are many instances where we do not agree or disagree as neighbors and it will be like that for years to come. Nobody can force feed us; we can do it ourselves just fine, thank you.

Kimberly

( Posted by: kimberly bird [Member] On: February 27, 2004 )

Maple Leaves and Uncle Sam
I once saw a comic strip labeled "A New Yorker's View of the World" And in it, New York City was roughly the size of the entire Northeast quadrant of the United States, and every other US State and foriegn country paled in comparison with it's sheer massive size. You could extend this metaphor, in a way, to Americans generally, though I take issue with the notion that this is a side-effect of our education system -- and just as a side note would like to point out that US educational curriculae differs from state to state, so what is true of public schools in Colorado is not necessarily true of public schools in Oregon, Connecticut, etc, each of which teach State History, US History and World History at different grade levels. I think the truth is that this condition is a side-effect of our media, our newsprograms, our politicians, our whole sense of the proportion of our own history.

Britain dealt with this same mindset during the Victorian period. There's an anecdote I read in my fifth-grade History book which related an incident between Queen Victoria and a visiting foriegn dignitary.
"What, would you say, has made England a great nation?" asks the visiting dignitary.
"This has, sir" replies Queen Victoria, producing a Bible. "This has made England great."
Now, there is something to be said for England's Anglican reformation helping out a great deal in producing autonomy from the Holy Roman Empire. However, I'd place my money on an answer of "Mercenaries" regarding the same question. Mercenaries, or legally recognized pirates, allowed England to adapt quickly to a new world in which naval dominion was a must, and allowed England to quickly confront the Spanish Galleon's threat during the reign of Elizabeth I. Mercenaries stocked the nation's treasure houses with gold while still leaving an open-ended plausibility for Queen Elizabeth to say "Well, I'm sorry about your gold being stolen. Guess I really have to do something about those pirates. Hmmm."
Yet in the later telling, it's difficult to explain the mercenaries. Therefore, the official story goes "God shined upon us because he favors Protestants. That's all. Then the wind blew the Spanish away and we became an Empire. The End."

For the same reasons US History gets taught in US classrooms, and talked about by politicians, and commented on by newsmen, in a very breezy way. Kind of like "First there were these poor colonists who were being taxed unfairly by a fat and greedy king. Then some brilliant men said "Why don't we form our own Government?" Then God handed down the Declaration of Independence to Thomas Jefferson who copied it out faithfully. Then the mean King tried to stop our new government, but he failed because God smiles on Protestants. Then Benjamin Franklin designed the Liberty Bell, George Washington was universally elected as President and everything was fabulous. The End." What about the Indians? "Well, there are occasionally dark spots in any country's history. We're not proud. We knew, though, that God smiles on Protestants and, afterall, they didn't wear pants, so we said "Hey, could you move to the West Coast?" Which they did and now they all have drinking problems. Oh, well, they got even with us by giving us tobacco. The End." What about Canada? "Well, they started off on the wrong foot being half-French, and therefore half-Catholic, and as we all know, God smiles on Protestants, so we got the Cajuns and they got to stay a colony for a whole lot longer. The End." What about WWII? "Well, there was a bad man named Hitler who wanted to kill all the Jews. We were still kind of upset about the League of Nations not working out, so we stayed on the sidelines until he started bombing England. That's when we said, "Hey! God smiles on Protestants and nobody messes with England besides us!" So we marched off to England, liberated France because they were on the way and it only seemed fair, and then broke down Berlin's defenses but we were too late because Hitler had already committed suicide. Oh, well, everybody loved the United States for being such a hero. Then we single-handedly rebuilt Germany and Japan. The End." What about the modern state of affairs? "Well, Europe is too busy being a quasi-socialist Republic and making art house films to really participate in world politics. The UN is too busy trying to tell the US military how to conduct wars, even though the US military single-handedly saved the world from Hitler. Therefore, from time to time it falls upon the US to rush in and save the day by bombing evil people beyond the stone age. In the process we get to introduce backwards people to Protestantism *and* we all learn obscure geography. So everyone is happy. The End."

I don't think it is necessarily solely a US tendency to get a big head about it's place in world politics. It's just a lot easier for citizens of the US to tune the rest of the world out of their grandiose dreams of World History.

Ironically, however, when sensitive US travelers go abroad they often pose as Canadians. HMMMM.

( Posted by: hazelfaern [Member] On: February 28, 2004 )

My Apologies
Sometimes it's easy to lose sight of how long-winded you're getting in the submit box.

I just saw how long the above post is and cringed.

I'm sorry about it's length and size. I'm sorry Davewriter. I'm sory all.

( Posted by: hazelfaern [Member] On: February 28, 2004 )

Canadians
hazelfaern, Americans pretending to be Canadians when abroad, darnit no wonder why I have problems travelling overseas, ha just teasing. Penelope, I wear my flag on my arse, patchwork on my pocket ;) Actually my favorite holiday is Canada Day, all the music and dancing. My kids won't celebrate it with me anymore because they say I embarrass them.

Kimberly

( Posted by: kimberly bird [Member] On: February 29, 2004 )

Hmm... Maple Leaf Patches?
You know, perhaps the problem with people imagining yourselves as Americans is because of the flag on the luggage, the patchwork on the pockets?

It's enough of a cliche (that Americans pose as Canadians while travelling in countries even mildly hostile to the US -- and today where is that not true?) that I've read about it multiple times in travel books. One book I read "The Intrepid Traveler" made an impassioned plea that sensitive US travelers stop this practice because the US can use all the good diplomatic representatives that it can get. I myself heartily agree.

As an alternative, perhaps as a Canadian traveler it would be wise to leave the flag and maple patches at home and simply rely on linguistic idioms to carry your point across? Or has this also become a cliche for Americans posing as Canadians to try and work the word "a-boot" into every sentence, as in "Well, a-boot those directions, can you repeat them, eh?"

( Posted by: hazelfaern [Member] On: February 29, 2004 )

Blame Mike Meyers
Unfortunately, the majority of my knowledge about Canadian culture comes from watching Mike Meyers give interviews while plugging his most recent movie. Or hold on a second... it was Martin Short who brought up a-boot, saying that when he got his first gig in Chicago the script writers had to delete all the "abouts" because he couldn't pronounce them differently (they used the word concerning in it's place)

Perhaps one of the reasons Americans don't know much about Canada is because the Canadian celebrities, here, rarely talk about their home country. Do you think this is because Canadians simply tend to be less flag-waving than Americans? Or is it a kind of circumspection, trying to avoid bringing up an Anti-American sentiment within Canadian culture? Or is it a shielding tactic, trying to deflect unnecessary attention from the fact that there are an unbelievably large number of Canadians working within the American media? Hmmmmmm...

( Posted by: hazelfaern [Member] On: February 29, 2004 )

a-boot?
A-boot, that's an eastern slang isn't it Penelope?

( Posted by: kimberly bird [Member] On: February 29, 2004 )

What's this all aboot, eh?
All I know is that I used to work with a girl from New York; or, as she called it, Noo Yawk. God, I love accents.

I know a number of Canadians (you guys are all over the Internet! Do they really have cable modems in igloos?) and they all make jokes about Canadians who say "aboot," so I guess it's really not that common.

I think the reason Candian celebrities don't talk about Canada when they're in the US is because that would make them less popular; we're still kind of xenophobic; we don't dislike Candians, it's just that we like Americans better.

Just ask every celebrity with an Italian, Spanish, or Jewish last name who's taken a "stage name" in America.

( Posted by: evil_bacteria [Member] On: February 29, 2004 )

In Deffence
For those who have read this I am Davewriter's cousin Greg. For starters I was i believe 11 or 12 when this all went on. My so called anger for american's was more of me cheering for my all time favorite wrestler Bret Hart at the time. What my cousin fails to acknowlege is that we were cheering for a side of a pro wrestling storyline, and yes we know pro wrestling is scripted. It was American's vs Canadian's Bret Hart would trash the USA verbaly while pro wresltler Shawn Michaels would pick his nose with the american flag and rub his ass with it. I am a proud canadian and have no real true hate against Americans. Sure like a lot of Canadian we have a thing against them but just like a pro wrestling storyline it's all in good fun. I'm actually a bit anoid with my cousin and how he as desribed myself and my family.

( Posted by: CockyPotocky [Member] On: November 6, 2007 )





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