Friday, 8 June 2012

Noses and Ears

Lately, I have been thinking about our differences.

I can remember how different I thought that we as Canadians were from Americans. We were kind and respectful people that were so polite that the rest of the world makes fun of us. Someone will bump into one of us and we automatically apologize for not jumping out of their way I guess. We are “hewers of wood and drawers of water”. I felt that the US considered Canada as their own personal depository of raw materials. I suppose it bothered me because in many ways it is and was true. I wasn’t alone, many of my generation felt the same way about Americans.

The odd thing about it is that the baby boomers did everything we could to become American. I was in California recently and from what I could see, we have turned Canada into a version of the US. We have become “Upper US”. From the distance of forty years, I realize how silly I was, of course we were controlled by the states. We watched their TV and movies, bought their manufactured products and in every way we became the same. Oh, we had our own government, money, industry and in many ways we kept our selves separate. I am an American in everything but name. I don’t particularly like the idea, but if we are viewed form afar (Europe) I am sure we are seen as different versions of the same people.

I do the same thing, when I look at the Arab and Israeli people. Stand them side by side naked and I defy anyone to tell them apart. If you were to travel far enough into the past, they are certainly branches from the same tree. Well, assuming that those branches hate each other and are willing to tear each other limb from limb. Heh…heh…heh.

My daughter married a man of Hungarian descent, and she is part Romanian. There is a centuries old feud between the two peoples which I think is over borders. The two parties can’t agree on where the property line should go. Thousands of years ago the Romanians owned some land and then the Hungarians pushed them out and kept the land. How long do you have to live somewhere before it becomes your own? Would it be 100 years, 1000 years or 2000 years? I am one to keep a grudge, but I figure that when I die then that grudge should die with me.

The Japanese sliced off the noses and ears of about two thousand Koreans during a war between 1592 and 1598 as trophies.  Over four hundred years later there was a movement to repatriate these body parts back to Korea. It almost became a reality, but the “Mimizuka” which literally means “ear mound” was designated a national cultural asset of Japan and remains in Kyoto. My point is that although there are probably immense differences between the two countries, in my ignorance they are basically the same people. Well, except that some have ancestors that kept their noses and ears.

We are no different as people. We all love our kids, try to be happy, work, play and eat and hope that somehow our lives make a difference. Sure, some people are bastards, but they are found in every country and in every race. Thankfully, the good people far out number the bad and like I say, we are the same. Different customs to be sure, but underneath it all we are just people.

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