Same planet, different worlds

Kathy “Relapsed Catholic” Shaidle and I (you could call me the “Relaxed Catholic”) saw the same Toronto Star article, but responded quite differently. The article was about the differences between Canadians and Americans, and here are the points she mentioned in her blog entry:

  • Some 28 per cent of Americans, versus 19 per cent of Canadians, completely agree that people are better off in a free market, despite inequality.
  • Canadians are much more positive about immigrants. Some 19 per cent of Canadians, and just 8 per cent of Americans, believe immigrants have a very good influence on how well things are going. But 43 per cent of Americans, compared with 18 per cent of Canadians, have a negative view of immigrants.
  • Some 71 per cent of Canadians, but only 55 per cent of Americans, completely agree that religion should be a matter of private faith, kept separate from government policy. Some 58 per cent of Americans said you could not be moral and have good values without believing in God, a view held by 30 per cent of Canadians.

My response: Told you we were cooler.

Kathy’s response: “So: can I pleeeeeze come down and live with you guys? It’s official–I’m doomed up here…”

I guess that makes me Homer Simpson to her Ned Flanders. But really, who’d be more fun on a night out on the town? 😉

Now before my left-leaning readers all go marching down to Kathy’s blog with pitchforks and torches, please keep in mind that I while I don’t know Kathy that well, I consider her a friend. I met her at the Gathering of Evil Right Wing Bloggers held by David Janes not too long ago, and we get along even though we don’t agree on everything. Let’s just say that I’ve been out of University for ten years now, and even back then I found the practice of reducing people to ciphers based solely on their politics rather silly and tiresome.

The immigrant thing

Full disclosure: I’m a first-generation immigrant, and I will let my family’s record speak for the positive contribution of immigrants:

  • Dad: Obstetrician/Gynecologist who’s worked at the Wellesley, Sunnybrook and Humber Valley Regional Hospitals. B.Sc., M.D.
  • Mom: Chief Cardiologist at St. Joseph’s Health Centre. B.Sc., M.D.
  • Sis: Family Doctor at Toronto East General. B.Sc., M.Sc., M.D.
  • Brother-in-law: Cardiologist at St. Joseph’s Health Centre. B.Sc., M.D.
  • Yours Truly: Computer programmer, Technical Community Development Coordinator for a major Internet company, accordion rock star, king of all media. B.Sc.

Real jobs, mad skills and thirty-eight frickin’ years of degrees among the five of us, which increases to forty once Sis gets her MBA. We all play active roles in our respective communities too.

We imports have a lot to bring to the table. It’s sad that many Americans don’t feel that way, and somewhat ironic — it’s as though many of them are saying “every since we came to this country, we’ve had nothing but crap from the immigrants.”

The religion thing

I also think that you can be moral and have good values without believing in God or having a religion. I’ve met such people.

I’ve also met people who do practice some kind of religion or believe in God who suck because they live in a moral vaccuum.

Aligning yourself with a religion is no guarantee you’re going to be a better person anymore than remodelling your kitchen will make you a better chef. The general concepts of Christianity and Buddhism are all well and good, but some of the vilest people I know are self-proclaimed followers of Jesus, and the largest chunk of people who’ve burned me in the past couple of years are Buddhists, and rather Richard Gere-esque vaingloriously self-absorbed ones at that (or at least in the world of Dances With Wolves, would have been given the name “Thinks of Self as Buddhist”).

Simply put: if you’re not doin’ the deeds, you’re just fakin’ the creeds.

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