Often those who live outside North America think that Canadians and Americans are the same. The COVID19 pandemic is a stark example of how different we really are. My friend, Pierre Pettigrew summed it up for me one day like this:
- Canada = Peace, order, and good government.
- United States = Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
His characterization explains a lot. Having lived in the US, I have seen this difference upfront and now in this pandemic, the divide in philosophy is widening into a chasm.
The Canadian Way
Peace and Order
Since I began sheltering in place on March 12, I have been angry. I am not angry with anyone or anything in particular. As I have reflected on my anger, I have realized that it is directed against those who are deliberately or cavalierly ignoring this pandemic by behaving in ways that disrupt the peace and the order I cherish.
These are the people who are hosting parties, playing in our parks, not keeping their distance – in short, ignoring orders and creating opportunities for this virus to spread. The message is very clear – stay home.
Our government leaders are not only giving this advice, they are leading by example. I share their disappointment in those who are breaking the rules and I firmly support their latest efforts to levy fines against those who do.
Regardless of your political affiliation, you must admire our political leaders at all levels of government. They are working tirelessly to give Canadians the support they need to stay home. The long-term economic impact of the decisions they are making is frightening but they are clearly more concerned about health and wellness right now.
The truism “without your health you have nothing” stands. The faster we can regain our physical wellbeing as a country, the faster we will be able to re-establish our economics. That recovery is going to be slow and along the way there will be collateral damage, but we will make it happen. Because we can.
The American Way
From the outset of this pandemic, I have been concerned about our American neighbours. They have a leader who is more concerned about the economy than the health of his citizens. When I see Governor Cuomo begging for help in NYC while the President prattles on without any regard for social distancing or self-isolation, it makes my blood boil.
The US is wealthy. They were warned. In my view, they ignored the warnings because their egos got in the way – they had the best health care, they had great food supplies, they had wonderful sanitization standards and a booming economy. They forgot that the engine of all that is a human workforce.
Americans are living through a period of deep trouble. They are fighting a war against an invisible enemy and they just can’t seem to relinquish their political differences for the greater good. It is sad to witness.
True Patriot Love
In 2020, I have never been prouder of being a Canadian. I know that the economic measures taken by our political leaders will impact me for the rest of my life. But their humanity during these times gives me hope for my grandchildren.