A modest proposal for curing a whiny nation

Catherine McMillan, National Post Published: Thursday, February 14, 2008

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Traits essential to the building of nations and preservation of democracies -- reason, resolve, creativity, self-reliance, common sense -- are no longer holding their own against the tide of the emotive, reactionary, self-obsessed and risk averse. The foundations built by those pioneering forefathers, upon which our unparalleled wealth and security were built, are cracking under the

weight of regulation, litigation and personal entitlement. The nannies are staging a coup. They've moved out of the nursery to seize control of the family business.

This is why I have come to believe that what Canadians need most at this moment in our history is a good famine.

By "famine", I do not mean those 24-hour fruit-juice-sipping adventures in group narcissism devoted to curing the problems of that continent-wide parade of dysfunction known as "Africa." No, what I have in mind is a proper food shortage of the depth and duration that drives the creative homemaker to taste test the wallpaper glue, while contemplating which of the $3,000 Labradoodles goes first into the stew pot.

"Dig deep, darling. The pup's at the bottom."

A taste of deprivation could restore the word "crisis" to its original definition, resurrect "endurance" and "stoicism" from the vocabulary dustbin, along with the long-lost distinction between "threat" and "nuisance."

It would push back the powerful "if it saves one child" lobby, along with their toboggan helmet police, school lunch analysts, anti-bullying program directors, and playground equipment removal teams. They'd be forced to shelve plans to open the family car to random search by health department inspectors with tobacco-detecting dogs. They'd return to tending their own needs and wants, instead of regulating away those of everyone else.

A half million 20-somethings would emerge from their parents' basements, if only to search for food.

In time, we might even relearn the survival skills of our ancestors -- how to hang up a phone, to expect imperfection, to mind one's own business.

To be grateful for what we have, accept our own burdens, and mourn quietly for what we lose.

kate@katewerk.com - Catherine McMillan is a freelance commercial artist living in Delisle, Sask. She blogs atwww.smalldeadanimals.com. This column is written in memory of William Henry, Iva Louise, and Dora Alice Cann.


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