|This is what my Facebook Timeline looks like to those who are not on my "Friends" list|
It has become a constant prediction, whenever I engage in online discussions about the American election: the accusation of excessive Canadianism in an American-centric topic.
It first started back when I began to discover my conservatism, and was "outed" by the husband of someone I had considered to be a friend: "It should be noted that Lissa is Canadian. A hike should be taken."
It bothered me back then, and I suppose it still does, to a degree, but I'm better able to combat it now that I've had some practice.
The latest happened in a Facebook group for Jewish conservatives. Not American conservatives. Jewish. I was added to the group by an American friend with whom I share much of the same mindset.
In discussing Donald Trump (did you think otherwise? Have you been following me at all?), I got heavily involved in expressing my concern, even disdain, for a candidate who has shown no conservatism, no decency, no presidential stature at all.
At one point, a Trump-supporting member decided to check me out on Facebook. Now, I am the maven of privacy options, so all any non-Friend can see is my display photos. The above photo is a screenshot of what non-followers see when they go check me out.
(For the record, I added the overlay of the Israeli flag some years back, and haven't changed it as most of Facebook has, with the terrorist-attack-du-jour; my support of Israel is strong, constant, unwavering, and proud).
That's what this mini-Sherlock saw, and gleefully brought it to the group.
"Maybe the flag of Canada as your cover photo makes it difficult for some of us to take your points seriously."
To which I replied,
"I didn't realize free speech had borders.
Look, you know nothing about me. Yes, I'm Canadian, but anyone who thinks they should only opine about their own country is living in ignorance.
EVERYTHING that happens in the world affects us. EVERYTHING that happens in the USA affects Canada.
I may not be directly affected but loved ones and friends are.
And until the admins of this group tell me I cannot post because of my geographical location, I will continue to have an informed opinion as loud as I'm permitted."
She continued - calling me a troll because I don't have a vote south of the border (this person was, the next day, made moderator of the group - o joy). It became a topic of conversation then, others coming in from both sides.
One admin said that I have no say, no place commenting, based on my nationality.
Someone else refuted that, with a third coming in and saying, "why is she allowed in the group, then? Are we preparing ourselves for Trump's stomping on the First Amendment?"
Another admin - anti-Trump - made the point that their "logic" would mean none of us who lives outside of Israel has a right to comment on Israeli current events. A third admin - also anti-Trump - confirmed that there is no support among the admins of the group for kicking out non-Americans.
I made a statement that I've continued to make throughout:
"If I were pro-Trump, my nationality would not even be a blip on your radar."
No one bit - except for the support I got from those in agreement.
Today, it happened again - same group.
In a discussion about Trump somehow being better than Clinton because he never raised taxes, never voted for a war, etc etc etc, I commented that it's irrelevant, as he has no political record whatsoever.
Of course, this brought in the pro-Trumper who tried to present logic that the post was not about Trump (it was - Clinton was never mentioned, and I made note that the post actually served as the pro-DJT ad Trump's campaign has yet to release).
The Trumper didn't like my logic. She refuted with, "I would make a bet that you bashed Stephen Harper in your election too."
That was her oh-so-cute way of revealing to the as-yet-uninformed of the group that I'm Canadian.
Though I owed her nothing - and said as much - I proudly proclaimed that I had been active for over a year, campaigning with and for our local Conservative Party candidate. That I had proudly blogged about the campaign, gone door-to-door, and had been privileged to meet and shake hands with our former Prime Minister, and his family, expressing my support to the Harpers at all 4 of the rallies I was lucky enough to attend.
The back-and-forth continued, with my letting her know, "Yes, I'm Canadian, but that cud's already been chewed in this group."
She became snarkier with each post, somehow blaming Trudeau on me (now, THAT'S an insult!), and when I continued to rebut with calm, semi-bemused posts of truth and logic, she went all-out Trumper on me, insulting me and calling me names.
So let's talk about my crime of Canadianistic origin.
Does it make me less informed about the USA?
Well, there are Canadians who are ill-informed, uninformed, or uninterested in American politics. Many of those don't even inform themselves about Canadian politics (we call those people Liberals).
But I am not the only Canadian who does learn everything I can about the USA.
First of all, it's unavoidable
Anyone who watches American television has no choice but to be bombarded with news stories, updates, commercials, comments about the candidates and the current events. And our Canadian news shows carry stories about the election happenings south of the border as well.
If you have friends, family, loved ones in the USA, you are likely hearing about this election - even if you never heard much about prior years. This one is different. This one has sensationalism.
And if you're on Facebook, with even ONE American friend, you're going to be seeing headlines. It's unavoidable.
Secondly, it's interesting
I know, now, that I should have stuck with Political Science way back when. I might have had a different path in my life, but that's okay; I learned later, and I learned intensively.
But the process, the patterns, the topics, the candidates...they're all interesting. They provide a lot of food for thought, and a lot of information for those of us who are discerning enough to want to know about what's outside the box of our lives.
Most importantly. it is obligatory
My mom had a saying: "when the USA sneezes, Canada catches a cold."
I recently learned, from my dad, that my grandfather had another saying: "When the USA gets a cold, Canada gets pneumonia."
You get the idea; we are affected. Our economy, our travel, our relations with the USA and with other countries, our security, our trade, our human interests. Everything we do is governed by some political subset of ideas, no matter where we live.
And sharing the longest undefended border in the world with the USA, Canada stands to endure much in the ways of the above-mentioned issues no matter who gets elected in November.
But let's go outside of that.
Are we that provincial, that small-minded, that tunnel-visioned that no other country's current events should be of interest to us? And if it is of interest to us, are we that narrowly governed by society that we should not engage in meaningful - CIVIL - discourse on those events?
Is any topic of current events a proprietary issue?
Perhaps a suicide bomb in Kabul doesn't affect my day. I will wake and go to sleep the same ways I did the day before, my food will be as plentiful, my technology will work, my kids will be happy and healthy, my dog will get walked, I'll enjoy laughing and sharing via phone calls, and I'll still be able to catch up on the latest Netflix offerings.
But to think that suicide bomb in Kabul doesn't affect everything in this world is incredibly tone deaf. Of course it affects us. It means there are terrorists who are continuing to harm others in the name of their extremist ideologies, it means that no one is safe because the next terrorist emboldened by that successful bombing may be on a plane to North America, or Europe, and we will - not "may" - be affected when that happens.
Do we stick our heads in the sands of our own countries, our own states or provinces, our own towns or boroughs, and breathe in only the air that is local to us just because we don't vote in other countries?
Or do we continue to thrive as citizens of the world, taking interest, learning facts and information, absorbing realities, and talking about it with other citizens of the world in order to be prepared for What Comes Next, no matter how directly or indirectly we are affected?
I don't know about you, but I'll take the latter.
Ignorance, friends, is not bliss.
No matter where you live.