The Canadian Social-Psychological-Spiritual Experiment with DemocracyThe Canadian Social-Psychological-Spiritual Experiment with Democracy
Joseph Martin, Ph.D., November 2014
Canada is unique among 21st century nation states. We are the most pluralistic society ethnically and religiously. Next to Russia, we have the largest territory with 6.7 percent of the Earth’s landmass and almost 10 million square kilometers. Though small in size with 35.5 million people, we have over 200 ethnic groups.
We inherited or stole the land from over 685 First Nations groups, whose population back then numbered in the millions. Many of these First Nations are on a comeback pattern, with increased self-determination, language and cultural revival, and the fastest growing population in Canada. Most of our city towns and names, including the word “Canada” are from our indigenous peoples.
As a nation state, Canada is only a century and a half old – 147 years to be exact. In terms of European states, this is relatively young. We are one of the few nations including Europe and three the three Americas that did not have a political revolution – countries like the France, Spain, Russia, America, Mexico, Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, Peru, Cuba, and Haiti.
The Unique Canadian Worldview and Values
The Canadian worldview and ethos is based on the prior First Nations heritage, principally the Haudenosaunee or Six Nations Iroquois and their Kayeneren’ko:wa or Great Law of Peace, founded by Dekanawideh the Peacemaker in around 1400 A.D. This Great Law highlights Peace, Power, and Righteousness. The Canadian cultural worldview of “Peace, Order and Good Government” is rightly based on the underlying, pre-existing historical spiritual culture of our Indigenous peoples.
The concept of Canadians as Peacemakers is literally and symbolically the conceptual and cultural children of our First Nations Ancestors – and here to be included are all the First Nations, Inuit and Metis that are sisters and brothers to the Haudenosaunee.
In our book, The Seven Sacred Teachings of White Buffalo Calf Woman, published by award-winning Metis author David Bouchard and myself, we outline the cross-Canada First Nations teachings that are common and paramount for all indigenous peoples. These are the values, spiritual principles, attitudes and behaviours of humility, honesty, respect, courage, wisdom, truth and love.
Most Canadians would espouse and attempt to exemplify and share these same values that have been lived on our territory of Canada since the first founding fathers of Confederation in 1867.
Questions for us to Ponder
In my prior paper “Calibrating Canadian Consciousness: Time for a Resurrection through Critical Change,” December 2012, I asked important questions for Canadians to consider. Since then, we’ve had geophysical disasters of flooding, hurricanes, ice storms all based on climate change; war in the Middle East; threats and murders at home of our military by insurgents; social political issues of grave concern with housing, food, possible pandemics, and lack of jobs for our young.
In times like these, some people would hunker down, forget the world and our society, deal with their own needs and desires, and refuse to support needed social-cultural changes. In essence, become selfish instead of sharing.
Here is the question: Are Canadians still focused on these uniquely shared values that differentiate us from other nation states’ values? Or are we indifferent? Are we succumbing to the mind-numbing, selfish, retaliatory, racial and ethnic profiling that goes on in other countries?
Are we consciously and actively participating in and co-creating a better culture and interpersonal relationships at a time when our country is joining other nations in a war in the Middle East in Iraq against ISIS and other insurgent groups?
How much are we honouring our forefathers and mothers in keeping alive a country uniquely committed to peace? What legacy left by our fallen soldiers (First Nations and all ethnic Canadians – except the ones in internment camps in WWII) are we keeping alive?
Dr. Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae’s world famous poem asked us to question our intentions and present-future endeavours in these regards.
“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing,
fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead.
Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.”
The Future of Canada
Fifty or one hundred years from now, Canada may be no longer – unless we act and grow together as sisters and brothers of one great family.
For over 70 years now, since the end of WWII, Canadians have been invade culturally, politically and economically by other nations, in particular, America and Mexico. The Gatt Agreements, the Trilateral Agreements, and the more recent deregulation of utilities, companies, and resources placing our goods, services and natural resources on the world stage of economic takeover has left us weaker as a people and nation. It may be the case that this social-political-economic movement may continue until there are no restrictions left about economic takeover by other nation states who legally will have the right through international law to take over our water, natural resources and companies.
Politically, we may be subsumed eventually by America to the south, and Russia to the north who are hungrily eyeing our territory, resources and social capital.
Peoples and nations fall when there is no vision, no outstanding leadership, no cultural will, no social imperative, and finally no quest for justice, equality, solidarity, uniqueness, and sharing.
This is not weakness to speak of these matters. This is historical truth. When a society or civilization ceases to care about its fellow citizens, then dissolution and cultural death inevitably ensue.
We have a chance to make Canada the great nation of multicultural, non-partisan pluralism it was set out to be thousands of years ago by our First Nations enduring and thriving after the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago at the time of the Laurentian Ice Shield. And since the time of Confederation where French and English, Upper and Lower Canada, rural and urban, First Nations and non-First Nations joined together to create a new ideal of democracy – from sea to sea to sea.
From the perspectives of history, anthropology, sociology, psychology and spiritual movements within cultures, it is clear that love not hate, sharing not selfishness, listening not telling, creating family not disenfranchising others – women, GLBTQ, ethnic and religious minorities – is the way forward.
Ukrainians, Japanese, Jews, Muslims, gays and lesbians, First Nations are now increasingly a part of the great cultural light that Canada is. Where will we go from here?
Love, acceptance, sharing, communicating and connecting, and co-creating a truer democracy and authentic society can be our goal as Canadians if we choose. The time is now. Our future and that of our descendants seven generations from now depend on us. What are we going to do about this?
What are our Chosen Values?
The country, and the world’s existence will rise or fall on the consciousness that we choose in order to move through the many challenges we face now.
“If it is true, as I have tried to show, that love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence, then any society which excludes, relatively, the development of love, must in the long run perish of its own contradiction with the basic necessities of human nature. Indeed, to speak of love is not “preaching,” for the simple reason that it means to speak of the ultimate and real need in every human being. That this need has been obscured does not mean that it does not exist. To analyze the nature of love is to discover its general absence today and to criticize the social conditions which are responsible for this absence. To have faith in the possibility of love as a social and not only exceptional-individual phenomenon, is a rational faith based on the insight into the very nature of man.”
Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving, 1956: 123
One of our greatest Canadians and statesmen has made it clear to us our choices.
“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”
Posted by: Joseph Martin Monday Nov 10, 2014 09:57
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