Okay look. America is a great country, we all know that. The nation has an impressive store of achievements. It dominates many aspects of global culture. And Anderson Cooper is the best newsperson, anywhere. Supergirl is pretty amazing too. 😉
But I have to laugh when I hear those long-winded speeches about how America is the greatest country on Earth. Put simply, Canada is decades ahead in terms of cultural integration. Some Americans might cringe at that notion. In fact, some visitors from the US have. When faced with the multicultural reality of downtown Toronto, some of our sheltered US acquaintances have been visibly rattled.
My family had Chinese/Australian neighbors in the 1960s and 70s. Best neighbors we could have hoped for. Friendly, fun to hang out with. But they also minded their own business. So as a kid I got a good introduction to living with people who look different and who hold beliefs distinct from our own (there was a big seated Buddha in their front hall, which I found intriguing). In fact, we didn’t even think about it. We just had a good time playing ball hockey, basketball, ping pong, badminton, you name it.
And driving to the nearest mall, back then called Thorncliffe, we were introduced to a wide range of peoples. Even in the 1970s.
So the next time I hear that America is “the greatest place on Earth,” I’ll chuckle again. And hope that next year, less Muslim youth feel compelled to call Toronto for the help they’re not getting from their fellow Americans.