Sunday, April 22, 2018

Oh Canada

And so ended a truly delightful Carl Orff Canada Conference. I’ve had the good fortune to present at many over the years—Calgary, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax and now Niagara Falls—and have always enjoyed the more intimate size (some 300 to the American 1200). And after some 18 years of summer courses in Toronto and other places, I’ve gotten to know a lot of these lovely folks. So it’s always a pleasure to see them again and it was again.

Now it’s tempting to paint Canada as an earthly paradise compared to the confusion and chaos happening south of its border. But I finally have figured out that no one culture has “the answer.” But every culture has something to offer another that is worth considering. The three that struck me this time:

1)   At first, I thought it was a spontaneous and heartfelt gesture that in the opening Conference Greetings, they acknowledged the original native inhabitants of the land on which we stood and said out loud that we are all guests on this land. Later I found out that this is now a legal requirement. Which despite running the danger of becoming worn like the Pledge of Allegiance and other mandatory similar statements, carries an extra power that the culture and the government are behind it. What would it be like for the U.S. to do the same? Open every big gathering—including every time Congress convenes—with an acknowledgment of the original inhabitants of the land and those who worked the land to make us prosperous (ie, enslaved people) and our apology to both. Wouldn’t that be something.

2)   In a more spontaneous gesture, the Conference chairs twice thanked the hotel staff and it was beautiful to see them standing with great pride in their work getting applauded by those they had served. U.S.A.? What do you think?

3)   The Canadian National Anthem. Love it! The words better, the music better and the French/ English bilingual version an important touch. Apparently, a movement is beginning to remove "God" from the text, which considering the reference is to the Christian/Hebraic God that allegedly gave permission to take the land from the non-Christian/Hebraic inhabitants, would align better with the new policy above (see number 1). Some day we'll find a more inclusive word for a higher spiritual power, an idea that so many (but not all) share and just get hung up on the vocabulary. At any rate, just the fact that this is under consideration is to my mind another impressive quality of a thinking culture. Hard to imagine this idea gaining ground in the U.S. Bible Belt.

Not ready to pack up and move here, but am grateful for the above and more. Thank you Canada!

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