Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Canadian Values

"Canadians seem to have a nice balance between a freedom to do what you want to do, a freedom from fear of poverty or violence and the freedom to be me. With Canadians, the multicultural diversity, sexual orientation diversity, the abled and disabled, we have a very inclusive attitude that everybody is in the family and we've got to help everybody."
"Not that we're that close to each other, what with the differences in provinces, Quebec, the Atlantic and so on, but that we are close enough to have the common programs that we all embrace."
Michael Adams, president, Environics Institute
View of Centre Block at night.
PWGSC - Parliament Hill, Ottawa, View of Centre Block at night

In a speech delivered to the Wilson Center's Canada Institute Mr. Adams, whose firm is involved in "original public opinion and social research on important issues of public policy and social change" points out the variances in social culture between Canada and the United States. And his conclusions might seem counter-intuitive to many who have always regarded Americans as compassionate and kind, involved in community.

Stands to reason, after all, since Americans typically are more generously giving to charitable causes than are Canadians. And in the United States, social philanthropy is far more developed than it is in Canada. Some might suggest that this is guilt at play, not necessarily altruism, since the most generous of philanthropists in the United States have typically been fabulously wealthy industrialists who gained their fortunes riding roughshod over the public interest to attain them.

In any event, Mr. Adams spoke of research that led to certain conclusions. Pointing out that Americans and Canadians respond far differently to society's needs in their personal perceptions of how they should react. The differences, he says are stark. Canadians have a more robust sense of community, aligned with a greater sense of individual freedom than do Americans. It's the 'I'm All Right, Jack' syndrome, one supposes.

Americans, on the other hand, speaking with a broad brush of generalization obviously, are burdened with a strong sense of patriotism and conformism. Unlike Canadians, Americans tend not to consider their country representing one community pulling in tandem for the public weal. Americans have a religious belief that success is the result of virtue, and failure goes to the undeserving. In the American view, he posits, a just world is one in which the rich are admirable, the poor are not.
The south portico of the White House -- Wikipedia

"If you don't deserve it, then you really don't deserve my tax dollars and you don't deserve my charitable dollars", he explained. "So you are on your own." Rather a harsh condemnation of perhaps what came out of the frontier mentality and individualism. A new Pew Institute study posited the question : Is belief in God essential to morality? Fifty-three percent of Americans responded in the affirmation while 31% of Canadians did so.

Issues of authority, patriotism, work ethic, ownership, religion and patriarchy represent the important issues on the American values landscape. Separated out somewhat and moderated by necessity in view of whether Americans are drawn to the Republican or to the Democratic agenda in the public discourse, scale of priorities and realization of core needs. Perhaps going a long way to explaining why millions of Americans were left catastrophically adrift with no health insurance.

Republicans, averred Mr. Adams, attract conformists and authoritarians (conservatism), while Democrats are attractive to the idealists in society. And then there's this last little adjustment in the scale of opposites and political affiliations relating to ideology and moderation. The American Democrats are more aligned to the Canadian Conservatives in values and priorities. There really is no Canadian-style Republican party.

Canadians represent themselves as being more idealistic, self-reliant and open-minded socially and culturally. The American public retains its strong sense of duty and work ethic, risk-taking and attention-craving (think celebrity-culture!). Needless to say these are all issues that seep over from one camp to the other in varying degrees. But by and large it's safe enough to conclude that the two societies really are different.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

()() Follow @rheytah Tweet