Values: U.S. - Canada Contrast

Values: U.S. - Canada Contrast
Posted by CN Staff on July 15, 2003 at 13:29:10 PT
Source: Charleston Gazette 
Nothing separates Americans and Canadians geographically except lakes and an artificial line on maps (the 49th parallel). However, a profound gulf of values divides the two peoples. Canada provides high-quality medical care free to all citizens. America doesn’t.Canada imposes strict gun control. But the right to carry a pistol seems almost sacred to millions of Americans. Canada has no death penalty. In contrast, U.S. President George W. Bush presided over multitudes of executions as Texas governor — and his brother Jeb is doing likewise as Florida governor.
Canada refused to join President Bush’s war against Iraq.In June, Canada decided to allow same-sex marriages. In America, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., wants to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban them.Canada ratified the Kyoto Treaty against air pollution. But the Bush administration refused.In May, Canada began steps to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. But America continues to jail pot-puffers, wrecking their lives for a habit less harmful than drinking beer.Why are the neighbor nations so radically different? This question is addressed in a best-selling Canadian book, Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and the Myth of Converging Values.The author, Toronto pollster Michael Adams, says Canadians “have become more skeptical of traditional authority and more confident about their own personal decisions.” In contrast, he says, U.S. residents “seem inclined to latch onto traditional institutional practices, beliefs and norms as anchors in a national environment that is more intensely competitive, chaotic and even violent.”Especially, a religious gulf divides the countries, The Washington Post noted in its July 1 Style Section. It explained:“Adams and other scholars point to the varying influence of religion in the two societies. Two-thirds of Americans think religion is important, while a third of Canadians do, according to polls. Nearly half of Americans say they attend church weekly, compared with one in five Canadians. ...“On religion and related moral questions, the United States is off the charts when compared with other industrialized societies, say those who have studied the subject. America looks more like Ireland. Canada is more in line with Scandinavia and the rest of Europe.”Adams cited a poll in which 49 percent of Americans agreed that “the father of the family must be the master in his own house” — but only 18 percent of Canadians did.Canadian professor Neil Nevitte told a Post reporter: “We don’t have Pat Buchanans and we don’t have powerful religious movements shaping social policy the way you do.”Rudyard Griffiths of Toronto’s Dominion Institute said many Canadians see the United States as a mirror of “what we don’t want to be.”Significantly, during the 2000 election, U.S. polls found that religion was the foremost factor dividing Republican and Democratic voters. Ardent churchgoers were much more likely to support candidate Bush, while people who rarely worshiped favored rival Al Gore.Cultural tides are fascinating. Every society is a complex stew of conflicting beliefs — yet majority values emerge in national policies. From our viewpoint, Canada has more humane, peaceful, compassionate, decent standards than those currently prevailing in the United States. Source: Charleston Gazette (WV)Published: July 15, 2003 Copyright: 2003 Charleston GazetteContact: letters wvgazette.comWebsite: Articles:Canada: Hippie Nation?! Canada! - Washington Post and Confused - Detroit Metro Times
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