I was a little embarrassed a few days ago with the outpouring, on a CBC national news broadcast, of praise for Canada’s reaction to the Fort MacMurray disaster. Reporters were suitably solemn while reporting the tragedy while the usually acerbic Rex Murphy rasped eloquently and emotionally on how wonderful Canada was as a nation to react as it had.
He recited a brief list of other tragedies from years past, from ship explosions in confined harbours, to mine disasters, ravaging floods which had destroyed homes, ruined businesses and wrecked many lives – and how Canadians had always responded with cash and caring support to set things right.
It was evidence, he said, demonstrating how great we are as a nation when tragedy strikes fellow Canadians, sometimes thousands of miles from where we live. We respond with all the aid we can offer from cash to resources to personnel; we open hearts and often homes.
But we always have – and that’s what surprised me when CBC-TV – and many editorial writers and commentators in press and on radio – sang our praises for reacting as we – and many other nations – have always reacted when fellow citizens have been struck by disaster; with action and the best help we can afford and are capable of giving.
We don’t need the self-gratification of self-praised action. We’re family and we do what families do when troubles come. We help each other
On the West Coast of Canada I live on the edge of tectonic plates which could in a matter of minutes bring earthquake devastation to some of our cities. We call it “The Big One” and many of us have prepared as best we can for a three to seven day minimum emergency without running water, fresh food supplies or medical aid. When the day comes, as we are told it most surely will, we shall be as are all communities in the immediate wake of disaster – scared, worried because help isn’t coming as quickly as we think it should (it never does, never can), but secure in the knowledge that across the far reaches of our country fellow Canadians will react as fellow Canadians have always reacted – with aid and as much comfort as they can offer.
It’s what we do. We’re family.
We can, and should be, proud Canadians, but never so proud that we believe we are doing something extraordinary because we simply do what bonded families should do in time of need; we reach out to help, as we should. It’s a given. Or should be.
The jingoistic lucubrations on CBC were unnecessary. A simple “thank you and well done, again” would have been ample and more fitting for the Canadian character.
(To save you a chore:Lucubration:a scholarly work – but inclined to be pompous,pedantic,stuffy. Amen.