By its very nature, a democracy is never truly complete.
As a political union of its entire citizenry, a democracy, by nature, has to grow and expand to reflect the interests, beliefs and needs of as many of its citizens as possible. Given that the interests, beliefs and needs of its citizens change and diversity over time, changes within a democracy are inevitable.
Canada, as one of the world's oldest functioning democracies, is no exception to this demand. As one of the most rapidly diversifying societies, Canada is proving to be an unexpected proving ground for the underlying principles of democracy.
As comic book readers the world over know, a civil war consumed the Marvel Universe throughout 2006 and 2007. At the centre of the conflict was a Superhuman Registration Act passed through the United States congress following a massive tragedy that destroyed an entire town in Conneticiut.
In the story's concluding chapter, Civil War #7, the Registration Act's architect, Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) reveals to one of the characters that the Act, and many of the things that were done in support of that act were part of a "100 things to do for a better America" list compiled by himself and fellow super-geniuses Reed Richards (aka Mr Fantastic) and Henry Pym (aka The Giant, Ant Man, Yellow Jacket, and a plethora of other superhero identities).
The list compiled by Stark, Richards and Pym ultimately led to disaster. This underscores an important caveat about conceptualizing utopian visions: these visions can become monsters, and lead to dangerous excess. Historical examples of utopian visions carried out strictly by elites bears this out in constant examples: the Russian, French Revolution, and Iranian revolutions come immediately to mind.
This isn't to say that visionary dreams are inherently dangerous. Any program of democratic self-improvement, by necessity, must begin with the people with whom the power and sovereignty of a democracy ultimately lie: in the people themselves.
In a new feature, here at the Nexus and elsewhere, ordinary people are going to chip in with their ideas on how to make Canada a better place to live, and a better citizen in the global community. This is the combined bold vision of 100 separate bloggers, of varying political stripes.
Our first participant, Politics 101's Kevin Millard, reminds us that the best way to embark on improving Canada for the future is to task ourselves with remembering its past.
#1 - Teaching History
One of the best things we can do to improve Canada is to teach more Canadian history in our schools. Doing this will improve our knowledge of who we are, where we've been, and where we're going. It would also correct common misconceptions about ourselves and instill in Canadians a sense of pride about their country.
At present in Ontario only one credit in history is required to obtain your O.S.S.D. Sure there are history classes available in grades 9 through 12. But, let's face it history is not going to be on a teenagers list of top subjects. That's why more than one year needs to be compulsory.
76% of Canadians are embarrassed by their lack of knowledge about Canadian history. This is something we should be alarmed about. It is the reason, when asked, why we tend to identify ourselves as "not American". Yet, I think most of us know more American history than our own.
This lack of knowledge keeps our accomplishments as a country (especially our military ones) in the dark. It allows special interest groups and political parties to tell us who we are and what we think. One instance of this is the common misconception that we are a neutral country, which is historically inaccurate. Canada has always picked a side and fought for it.
In WWI Canada 's military went from being a rag tag bunch of farmers to becoming one of the most respected, most effective and most feared forces on the western front. This is a reputation that has followed us--with good reason-- into every conflict we have been in. What we have not been is neutral.
We tend to think of ourselves as beer drinking hockey fans and nothing more. While we are those things, we are also so much more. We are leaders in the Aerospace industry, insulin was invented here, standard time was invented in Canada, and no Canadian army unit has ever retreated in the face of the enemy. These are just a
few accomplishments that are worth mentioning. There are many, many more.
Our lack of knowledge about our history greatly impedes our ability to to make informed decisions about who we are, and were we're going. This needs to change, so we can start to be proud of being "Canadian".
Thank you for your time,