Friday, December 17, 2004

Looking to the north

Americans are enamoured by the sound of our own voices. Like the proverbial single hand clapping, many Americans consider themselves the be all and end all when it comes to defining western civilization.

In reality, we are a boorish, uncultured, violent and imperialistic blight on the rest of the world. Case in point? Consider the comparison to Canada, our naughty neighbor to the north. As Mark Morford writes in Wednesday's San Franicsco Gate, "It's getting more confusing by the minute, isn't it? I mean, Canada now has legal medical pot and legal gay marriage and universal health care and no known terrorist enemies and a relatively successful multiparty political system. They also have, according to U.N.'s Human Development Index, one of the highest qualities of life in the world. All coupled with a dramatically reduced rate of gun violence and far better gun-control legislation than the U.S., despite having the exact same per capita rate of gun ownership and gun-sport enthusiasm. "

Morford's column referenced Canada's high court ruling which opened the door to legalizing gay marriage in Canada-true north, strong and free.

Unlike our own fundamentalist president, Canada's Prime Minister is an open-minded man, recognizing the dignity in all people, regardless of race, creed, or sexual orientation. Take for instance that Prime Minister Paul Martin said his government will introduce a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Parliament after the Christmas holidays. He has told his Cabinet ministers that they must vote for the bill to retain their posts. The bill is likely to get the 155 votes it needs for passage in the 308-seat House of Commons, advocates on both sides of the issue say. Canada would become the third country -- joining Belgium and the Netherlands -- to legalize same-sex marriage. Interestingly, both of these other gay-friendly countries are known for their exceptional standards of living, as well as universal health care.

When it comes to leading the world in areas that matter; human rights, tolerance, and access to a better standard of living, arrogant America could take a few lessons from countries that lead by example. Like Canada!

As Morford says about Canada, "...they simply beat us senseless on the whole open-minded, progressive thing. Kicked our flag-wavin' butts. Trounced our egomaniacal self-righteous selves and made the red states look even more foolish and backward than the whole world already knows them to be. "

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