This past week, the world watched in shock as Great Britain voted to exit the European Union. While I respect the right of Britons to decide their fate, I can’t help but feel the world has taken a giant step back. Back to the days of blind nationalism and isolationism, movements that in the past have sparked global conflicts.
Brexit coincided with two national holidays here in Canada—St. Jean Baptiste Day in Quebec and Canada Day. I am proud to be Canadian and on Canada Day, I will celebrate this great country and wear our cherished red and white with nationalistic pride.
But here’s the funny thing about nationalism. It has a dual meaning, a dark and a light side. In its most purest, good form, nationalism is a display of love—a patriotic love for your country. But its dark side evokes a very different meaning and emotion, the emotion of hate since it can also be defined as an extreme form of patriotism, often marked by a feeling of superiority over other countries.
I would like to think that in Canada, we are pure in our nationalism. But I’m not that naïve. Some day, and with the Brexit vote, that some day could be sooner than we think, the dark side of nationalism will rear its ugly head again in this country and the separatists in Quebec will resume the call for Quebec to separate. I hope when that day comes, we have more sense.
What is so very, very sad, is it doesn’t have to be a choice. You can be a nationalist while still forging unions and partnerships.
This week’s #HappyAct is to celebrate with purity in your heart this national holiday.
Stand tall and sing the national anthem. Wear red and white with pride. Drown your pancakes in maple syrup. Say eh?, and then beg someone’s pardon.
As Chris and Dave Hadfield wrote in their great anthem to Canada, we are, after all “politely Canadian”. Hopefully that will keep us together.