You might think of Canada as a suburb of the USA, after all that is for the most part, the way we treat it. It seems to be moving through space just a bit north of us. Canada has cowboys, entrepreneurs, waiters, teachers and the assortment of “ologists” and others we have.
But on my last visit, it became clear that Canada is not like the US in any way that really matters when it comes to the nature of the people who live in these two countries. Despite where I traveled and to whom I spoke, there was pervasive evidence that collectivism is a natural state of being when people live together. And that sense of community did not diminish or dim the evidence that Canadians equally embrace personal responsibility as a natural state of being when people live together.
This authentic amalgam of collectivism and rugged individualism seems to inform the personal brands of most Canadians, despite their prized diversity among race, religious practices, political views, and more.
Canadians act as if everyone matters and everyone has duties.
Their streets are clean. The bathrooms are clean. Even Sears is clean. Not just because enough people are hired to do the jobs, at a true living wage, but also because patrons wipe down the sink when the water splashes, put their litter in trash cans and place things back on the shelves when they are considered but not purchased.
Mostly, their abject lack of hate was shocking to me, because in America we are living through the fourth decade of hate driven by fundamentalist special interests beating us on behalf of the uber powerful, the uber religious, the uber nationalists and the uber wealthy.
And I discovered that I am a typical American with that “uberness,” when I talk about the importance of the US on the world stage.
I was conversing with a Canadian school teacher/waiter with a masters’ degree in literature, and we got onto the subject of the US presidential elections. To this incredibly decent and civilized person, I found myself declaring, “Well, the US elects not just the president of our country, but that person becomes the leader of the free world!”
She just nodded. I caught myself and turned red. Then, I tipped uber well.