Missing Identity

   I can’t say what information people from other countries get when it comes to the evening news. I do know the evening news on Canadian networks will always include some news segment from the United States and usually something out of Europe, mostly the UK. It’s not like there isn’t enough Canadian news to fill a broadcast, we have politicians too, but it’s a big world, lots happen daily around the globe, and you can only fit so much into 30 minutes. When I watch the American news broadcast, they don’t usually talk about anybody but themselves. What? You’re not surprised??

Watching the American news broadcasts freak me out. These people are right whacked! Their actions and attitudes are so all over the spectrum, it’s scary! The United States has become a country so divided that it has no longer has any definable identity. It’s a country of contradiction. They oppose Putin’s totalitarianism and elect Trump. They wear guns to protect themselves but won’t put on a mask. They support the rights of every individual to a peaceful existence but shot each other every day. They ban abortion but not assault rifles! Does anyone actually understand what the United States represents? I know I sure can’t figure it out.

   All my life I have been aware of the influence the United States has had on my country. We’re their closest neighbour, and share 8891km (5525mi) of land border, the worlds longest. There are no fences along most of our border, excluding snow fences which are actually trying to actively stop snow. For the most part, the border between the two countries is unguarded. We have always had a peaceful relationship with the US, contentious sometimes, but always peaceful.

When I was younger, I didn’t understand why we even had a border. Our cities looked the same as theirs, their people dressed the same as us, we spoke the same language and it just seemed that we might as well be part of their country. Its 52nd state. Then I got older and my views broadened, and I started to see the differences between Canada and the United States of America. Now, I couldn’t be happier that there is a border, even the snow fences work for me.

    The United States holds their constitution, a document written more than 200-years ago, as being sacred. For them, it is the roadmap to Eutopia. The Constitution of the Untied States, according to the average American, contains all the truths needed to construct the perfect society; it is their country’s Holy Grail. It is a document that every American, as a child or immigrant, along with their flag, has sworn to honor and protect. Their constitution is the county’s bible, and in their minds, it contains the ‘true’ word.

Like Donald Trump and most Americans, I’ve never read the Constitution of the United States. But what I have read of it, when it comes to drafting a document that represent an entirely new form of government, is very well written. Their constitution, the original document written in 1787, was about how to be a country that had no monarch, or ruler with a direct line to some deity or other, and that embraced the thought of a society governed by the people. The original Constitution, signed by 55 delegates in Philadelphia, was the way to make this happen. It was literally the roadmap, the nuts and bolts of their government system, the rules that Americans would follow in order to maintain union as one country. That was it, it was nothing more than a manual.

   The Constitution didn’t take any biblical status until 1789, when the delegates all got together again and added the Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America. These are a list of the ideals and principles by which their society would live. Defining a country governed by laws and the rights and freedoms of each individual citizen of the USA. This is something that had never been done before anywhere in the world. Let’s not forget, that these were still the times of “off with their heads”. When you think about it, even today, it is pretty heady stuff.

I give them full kudos for what they put down on paper, these were some forward-thinking people. Forward-thinking enough to envision microchips and nuclear weapons? Obviously not, considering one of the signatories was still trying to catch lightening with a kite. But what their ‘founding fathers’ write about in the Amendments to the Constitution are well thought out, and reflective of their times, but also written in such a way as to understand that times will change in the future. They didn’t overcommit, and wrote the amendments in a manner ambiguous enough to create multiple interpretations. Now it’s a bible.

The ambiguity of the words written down in their constitution, I feel, has brought the US to the point it is now, confused. Internally divided by the interpretation of a 235-year-old document, written by ‘white male slave owners.’ Unable to adjust to the logic of the times, they argue over perceived meaning, and use small portions of the text to justify their actions. “What do you mean I can’t have my AR-15 in the stroller with my baby when I go shopping? The Constitution says I can! See right there… number two!”

The first time the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that a law was “unconstitutional”, and overturned a previous judgement against an individual on this ground, things went sideways, and the United States’ identity started to disappear. They started to become a country of individuals, and the average citizen of the country now believes the Constitution is all about them, and their personal freedoms as an individual. Lost is the roadmap and the intent of the ‘founding fathers’ to build a nation with the simple principle defined by the first three words they wrote, “We the People…”

 

 

 

 

 

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