Our friends to the south celebrated Independence Day on Friday.
The United States remains a wonderful puzzle to those of us who look on from beyond her borders.
Capable of wonderful generosity, its citizens can also be close-minded and a little obtuse in dealing with other nations. It’s a land of contradiction.
The United States is a religious nation -- 77 per cent of Americans identify as Christian, compared to 67 per cent in Canada -- yet at times shows a hardness that belies that faith.
They prize individuality while something in this country’s nature makes us more likely to see issues from a wider societal standpoint.
Canada is actually slightly larger in land mass than the U.S., but America has 10 people to every one of ours, 318 million to our 35 million.
We have subsidized health-care, they have mostly private insurance.
While there is a schism between left and right in Canada, it doesn’t seem as charged or angry as the red state/blue state divide in the U.S.
An issue that many Canadians will never understand is the gun culture and the sway of the National Rifle Association. There have been 10 attempts at mass shootings in schools since the dreadful massacre at Sandy Hook in December of 2012 yet no substantive change has been made or even really attempted.
It’s not about taking away guns; perhaps limiting automatic weapons or even having a basic list of who owns what might be enough.
Instead, guys in Texas are walking into restaurants and stores with long guns to extend their open carry rights.
Obviously it’s right for them -- and we are in no position and have no wish to meddle -- but most Canadians are happy that ownership is a little tighter here.
It’s a country that thinks highly of itself, a phenomenon best described as the theory of American exceptionalism. While that stems back to the country’s unique birth, the new meaning of the phrase adds the idea that Americans shouldn’t be prosecuted as a nation because it’s above international law.
You can even argue that theory’s pervasive nature can be seen in the fact that about one-third of Americans have passports, compared to 64 per cent in Canada.
We could spend a great many column inches debating American interventions in other nations over the decades, but we’ll just say that their motivations are sometimes a puzzle and other times seem shady to people from other countries.
Americans have their oddities -- as do we and all other nations -- but a goodness remains in the people there that suggests they remain one of this world’s great hopes.
When they as a people answer to their best angels, the world is far better for their existence.
So to all of our American friends -- including the many warm relationships that people in this newsroom have with people south of the line -- may the year ahead be a great one for you.
Prince Albert Daily Herald