by Sarah McCarthy
WHITMAN COLLEGE PIONEER
Alright, Canada. You’re better. Fine. This thought occurred to me an average of 145-160 times a day during the four days I spent there this Thanksgiving break. Canada’s betterness is something that most of the United States’ population is, at some deep and subconscious level, aware of, but spending time in the place really brings it home.
Abstractly, I am aware of the obvious things, like their universal health care (something I debated many times against when I was a debater, never very successfully), the fact that they allow gay marriage, the fact that they don’t have that ridiculous absurd thing we like to call the Second Amendment and thus are able to acknowledge the Earth-shattering fact that guns do, when fired, kill people.
In concrete ways too, though, Canada is just simply superior. At the Vancouver aquarium, for example, the food stand sells things like “yam and feta cheese pannini” and “mozzarella quiche.” You are allowed, in fact, even encouraged, to eat wherever you please inside. There are 32,762,452 Canadians, seemingly all of whom behave admirably at all times. There are 300 million people in the United States, seemingly all of whom have a little trouble with common courtesy and may just try to kill each other in the rush to obtain a new video game console with which to waste their lives.
Canada is also seemingly less concerned that someone will sue them for all their money and run off to the Bahamas, a misfortune that U.S. citizens are constantly trying to ward off. In the entirety of the territory of Nunavat, there is only one lawyer. In the U.S., we have 70 percent of the world’s lawyers but only five percent of the world’s population. We have elementary schools that are actually banning TAG at recess because they’re worried potential lawsuits, apparently from parents whose child is “it” just one too many times. Canadians allow young children to be unsupervised in pools and to work out in gyms, much to both my very young siblings’ delight. It is just generally assumed that you wouldn’t allow your young child to do this, or if you did, that you wouldn’t assume it was someone else’s’ fault if something went awry.
I worked all summer at a law office that was representing the insurance companies refusing to pay victims of Hurricane Katrina for their destroyed houses. I spent a long time poring over pleadings in which the insurance companies argued that the damage had been caused by flooding and not “wind driven rain,” and that as Section 200, line 27 of their policy stated, they wouldn’t cover flooding. Never have I lost more faith in humanity than when I realized that, somewhere, there are people in this world who will actually try to engage in a semantic argument about floods vs. wind-driven rain with someone who has just lost everything. In Canada … well, I don’t actually know what would happen in Canada. But, probably, it would be a little more reasonable, a little more logical, and would make everyone a little happier.
Arriving back in the United States, though, I couldn’t have been happier. I felt confident that if I went to the aquarium back in Seattle I would be served nothing more elaborate than a hamburger, and that I would be attacked with sticks if I tried to eat somewhere other than the designated eating area. I knew, too, that were I really to be attacked with sticks, I could get a very large “emotional damages” settlement out of it. It felt good. It felt comfortable.
Our nation is not perfect, but I can’t help being deeply patriotic in spite of it. Perhaps one day Canada will capitalize upon its betterness, decide that it’s sick of being pushed around by a nation that needs signs on Superman capes telling people that it doesn’t actually enable them to fly. Until that day, we can sleep well, knowing that even though we may have more crime, more poverty, more education problems, more health problems, more obesity, more depression, more lawsuits, more divide between the rich and the poor, and a more inept government, at least we’ve never, never once, finished a sentence with “eh?”