Growing up under the Maple Leaf, generations of children are taught the importance of tolerance in our just society. This upbringing shares an interesting parallel with my own in understanding cultural, religious and national differences. As an expatriate, life can be a daily struggle if you fail to adapt and expect others to accommodate to your own way of doing things. Difference, when properly harnessed, greatly enhances our society as a whole.
Canadian urban centres have evolved as a consequence of welcoming new populations and public services in cities like Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver are well equipped to provide support in approximately 150 languages. Just like the US Marines, we don’t leave anyone behind – that’s the theory anyway. Canada is no longer a ‘hidden treasure’ or ‘the best kept secret’ as a place to establish a family and live a life of peace. People are really catching on. We celebrate difference through cultural festivals, social programs, religious freedom and countless other unique factors that are impossible in more homogeneous countries.
Those with roots established over several generations have grown to integrate and|or accept “political correctness” - it is a much more abstract concept to other countries - and define tolerance in their behaviour. These changes don’t often occur overnight. Detractors of the Canadian mosaic philosophy dating back to the Trudeau era – these are the fruits we are currently reaping – do not tend to verbally express any discontent in public fora and internally deal with most of their issues opposing multiculturalism. Hate crimes, racism, anti-semitism and overt disrespect towards other cultures… well that’s just so non-Canadian.
Similarly to many developed nations however, many Canadians do not have the same reservations it comes to Catholics and their faith. Our stock has greatly tumbled down the cliff over the years. As a Catholic, I do agree that there are several issues within the organization such as the structure, lack of evolution in doctrine, controversies and other accusations that are too well publicized over the media. On the other hand, could anyone share their knowledge as to something designed by human beings, which are free of any imperfections? I would really like to know. Not even Steve Jobs could avoid mistakes in his lengthy career.
Once we open up a dialogue embracing so-called “constructive” criticism, religious beliefs seem to be treated much differently. When we extend this topic further, including other religious leaders and faiths aside from Catholicism, the discussion then takes a turn for the worst. Should other religions be criticized, the accuser is often regarded as a racist or an anti-Semite. If we wish to continue to promote a just society, we must extend the same privileges and tolerance to every group, regardless of perceived flaws. Difference in faith makes us stronger.