National Identity : LUSENET : Naked Eye : One Thread

Well, as we all know (because we all read Just a Girl and Lucidity, right?) the Aussies recently defeated a self-rule referendum. Being Canadian (and a sister nation to Australia, part of the same Commonwealth under Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth) I am no stranger to referendums. But it got me thinking about national identity.

Are you proud to be a (whatever you are - please do tell your nationality)? Why? Why not? What makes you feel like a [fill in nationality here]? What do you think are the common traits of your [nationality]?

You know, stuff like that.

-- Catherine (, November 09, 1999


I am incredibly proud to be a Canadian. I love my country and I actually quite love the whole Queen/Commonwealth thing, too - but I suspect that is some romantic notion of the aristocracy that is untrue or, at least, fatally flawed.

I am proud to be a Canadian because of many things but the immediate thoughts are ...

our status as a somewhat "neutral" country which is not aggressive (but is supportive) in world conflict issues (yes, I know, we seem to wander around kissing the great American political ass, but I don't think we do)

our reputation (and a deserved one) as a kind and gentle nation - our history of non-conflict and our social safety net

Our flag - man I love that thing

Our beautiful landscape and almost unlimited natural resources

Our rather impressive musical talent (and specifically the quintessential Canadian Band - The Tragically Hip)

Our relative lack of homelessness

Our social programs which are designed to ensure the safety and well being of our children

Our (2nd highest in world, is it?) taxes. Yes, I don't mind the high taxes - it's still the best living bargain in the world, imo.

When I stop on the side of the road, put my hazards on and get out to take a picture at least 3 people stop to make sure I don't need assistance.

Hockey. We *are* still the frying pan from which the majority of the world's top players emerge.

Our medical and education systems.

"Canada" means something to me. It makes my heart swell. I always stand for the anthem. I make my son remove his hat and my daughter remove her chewing gum and when the anthem is played somewhere they're clever enough to snap to attention.

O Canada, Glorious and Free, you know.

Oh, I went on!


-- Catherine (, November 09, 1999.

As the t-shirt says, "Canada kicks ass!" (My little brother wears that T-shirt frequently, by the way, Catherine.)
Now, the complicated bit.
I've been living in the US for a year.
DEEP in the heart of the US (none of this welloregonispracticallybcanyway stuff available to me), in Colorado.
It is causing some identity conflicts. I mean, I still feel Canadian, but I don't want to be one of those annoying ex-pats that sits around whining about how THEIR country is so much better all the livelong day while steadfastly refusing to just GO THE HELL BACK THERE THEN. But I wouldn't have *moved here* on my own, I just wanted to marry my husband and my otherwise beloved country wouldn't let him in without him being either rich or in grave political danger (like, threats of state execution, or civil unrest that the general populace actually *admits* to). And my mother in law spoils me, because she has the exact same opinion of our 2 countries that I do, so the more I bitch, the more she agrees right along with me.
i'm *deeply* conflicted, man. i guess we'll just have to see how it works out. I am getting very sick of "Oh, you're from Canada? So when do you get to become a US citizen?" though.

-- marianne aldrich (, November 09, 1999.

Well I'm Canadian too and I love it. I love being in England and opening my mouth and not two words coming out before I hear "Oh you must be from Canada".

I love the maple leaf and the flag. I love how polite everyone is (well there are always exceptions, but still...) and how helpful people can be.

There seems to me that we are a community...despite Canada being so freaking huge, there is none of the "melting-pot-you-must-conform" thing going on. There are distinct ethnicities that have blended but still remained distinct.

I love that we are part of a Commonwealth and I don't even mind when people come up to me and say "You're from Canada, *eh*?" I don't think we use it that much...however in my local dialect (Ottawa Valley Speak) G'day and eh are staples.

great question...I'm beaming off national pride here as we speak.

-- Kate (, November 09, 1999.

I'm an American, and it kind of comes and goes in spurts. Right now America has a lot of influence on the rest of the world, and it's like being tossed, against my will, in the most popular fraternity on campus.

I'm proud of the freedoms we have compared to some countries. I'm not so proud of things like Columbine High School, where teenagers got hold of weapons to indiscriinately kill.

I have a love-hate relationship with my own country, I think. A typical product of the Sixties.

However, we do have the Space Program, and we did land on the Moon, and are launching probes into the outer solar system. Achievements like THAT are something to be proud of, and will last longer than be remembered longer than any injustices which happen now.

--Al of Nova Notes.

-- Al Schroeder (, November 09, 1999.

I'm English. My dad said he was British and never thought of himself as English. Proud isn't the word. I think about this a lot. Maybe I'm complicit in Englishness. Sometimes, like returning from Europe on the ferry, being stuck back in close quarters with them I feel Englishness is like a soul disfiguring disease, aggressive philistinism, impoliteness, stupidity masked behind habit, class (which is about status rather than money) consciousness that makes every encounter a pitfall. But I wouldn't want to be anything else. I've never felt more foreign than in America. And though in that sense Iknow that I am European, I know that I would be able to have a laugh with an English person anywhere. I take, for an utterly personally unviolent person, a perverse pleasure in the status of the British Army as pound for pound the best and most resourceful fighters. I'm proud both of having created the Empire and then of having given it up. Having an inflated idea of ourselves since at least the sixteenth century, we can't give up now. 50 million on a small island but you try telling me we're not a great nation. Pathetic. But ...

-- chris (, November 09, 1999.

I'm American, and I am proud and not proud of that. I'm proud that my family has served this country for generations in the military and kept very close to awareness and an attempt to practice the ideals of honor and integrity and protection of individual freedoms that is the best of what my country stands for.

I'm less proud of the reality that so often supercedes that ideal. I'm not very proud of the complacency we have in thinking our way is the 'right' way and therefore it's ok to force it onto others.

I'm not very proud of how often we pay lip service to 'freedom' while standing on our 'right' to supress the freedom of others.

But mostly, yes, I am proud - we aren't perfect, but I do believe that we have the framework to make it possible to be better if we choose to be - either as a nation, or a neigbhorhood or as individuals.

-- Lynda B. (, November 09, 1999.

I don't have any special feelings about being an American. It's such a big country. In all that bigness, I find myself identifying with my particular region, the Arizona desert. And I am proud to be an Arizonan. There is something about the land here I gain strength from. There are so many beautiful nature areas. And I rather like that I'm not freezing my rear off now, as so many living in other areas are. The payment of the hot, hot, hot summers, well, I even take pride in that. See, I can take 115 F. (45C) with a smile. I'm tough!

-- Joan Lansberry (, November 09, 1999.

Interesting question Catherine.

Being Australian is a fundamental part of who I am. I have Canadian relatives and I've been there (twice!) and I love it - it has a lot in common in feel and spirit to Australia. But Australian is something else - I think it comes from being one bloody great island, and so different from anywhere I've ever been.

Since my love (who is Californian) has been living here we've travelled a lot and one of the most amazing trips we did was to the heart of Australia, Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock). We walked around it, spent a day there. I touched it and I have a photo of my hand up against that rock face. To me, it's part of who I am.

I have an almost visceral response to being Australian. Thus, the importance of the referendum result to me. It wasn't a re- affirmation of the Queen's role in government at all - unfortunately, the question asked involved a choice between one type of republic and the current system - and the voices for change lost.

Ah well ... it's still a great place, and it's not as if the Queen adds or subtracts to our national identity all that much.

cheers! Anna

-- Anna (, November 09, 1999.

well, i'm english. i'm very english, in some ways: i apologise if someone steps on my toes; i like rain; i get all misty eyed when i hear a blackbird singing in a summery wood; i feel all squirmy-awkward if a person i don't know tries to hug me; i know how to use politeness as a weapon; i talk like an old fashioned BBC announcer. and there are some things i love about this country.
but there are other things that wind me up something rotten. i have no love at all for the whole heritage industry (turning the whole country into a museum piece) and slightly less love than that for the trappings of the establishment. (i'd love to see the royal family put out to grass.) i hate the inequalities that are stitched so tight through our society. i hate what twenty years of tory government did to the country.
being english is something that, i think, we are at an uneasy middle point between america and the rest of europe. britain is no longer the centre of a great and glorious empire. but we've never really got over that.
british. english. the two are different. it's a hard thing to quantify.
and i've completely forgotten what my main point was. oh well.
p.s. jeremey paxman's book, 'the english' is dreadful.

-- heyoka (, November 10, 1999.

I'm an American who travels a lot for pleasure. I'm proud of the fact that when I'm travelling no one assumes I'm American (ugly American syndrome). In fact, people usually try to guess my nationality based on appearance. Guesses range from Scandanavian, from the UK, or various non-mediterranean European countries. One English woman who lives in the West Indies, whom I've known for four years, just found out that I'm not Canadian. Later on that evening someone asked me my nationality in her presence and I replied "Canadian". We had a good laugh over that.

-- Elayne (, November 10, 1999.

i'm writing my thoughts on 11th november, a date which has at least three significant events in the australian psyche attached to it. ned kelly the bushranger was hung, it is rememberance day (though anzac day may be more crucial) and Gough Whitlam was sacked as prime minister by the governor-general in 1975. that's one of the reasons why labour politicians are republicans. i am getting over my disapointment at the referendum result though i thought the result would be as it was. the question was set up to fail. celebrating failure is something australians do well in retrospect. generally i like being australian, i'm not sure whether i subscribe to everything that is popularly considered part of the australian identity. the landscape always gives me a sense of awe, the varied expanses of the inland and the coastline. i enjoy watching australians play sport. (especially swimming at the commonwealth and olympic games, cycling, team sports, cricket) i love australian art, tim tams, the sense of humour and diversity. what i dislike is the "blokey"/macho "football, meat pies, kangaroos, and holden cars" (an old '70's tv ad) masculine attitude that constitutes the prevailing "national identity."

-- jo gillespie (, November 11, 1999.

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