On being ... proud

By Ingrid Sapona

Some On being … columns feel like they write themselves. This one isn’t one of those.
Today’s column has been a struggle mainly because I’ve been debating about whether it’s too personal to write about. (I know that probably sounds odd, as most columns are pretty personal.) Maybe I should just admit that my struggle with today’s column is because it lays bare something I’ve been judgmental about for a long time. (Funny, I thought – OK, hoped – that admitting that would help the words tumble magically onto the page. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.…)

Anyway – the topic for today’s column came to me when I was at my sister R’s retirement party two weekends ago. R is retiring after 30+ years on the faculty of a U.S. university. The past 12 (or more?) years she’s been associate dean for academic affairs in one of the University’s colleges.

OK – so let me get the embarrassing part out of the way. Though I love and respect both my sisters immensely, I’ve always felt frustrated by what I see as R’s lack of ambition. I know what you’re thinking: you don’t get to be associate dean by accident. But honestly, in a way, she did. She didn’t seek the job out. She was asked/invited to apply for it and then she got it. So, you can see why I’ve always felt she kind of fell into it.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t think she deserved the position. She did. She is incredibly competent and organized. In the latter years of her tenure as associate dean, an increasing part of the work involved resolving complaints against faculty and students. Such issues involved working with diverse teams and crafting fair solutions – two of her particular specialties. And yet, to my way of thinking, if she were ambitious, she’d have proactively sought out such a position or tried to move on to a dean’s position after a few years. I know, pretty judgmental of me…

At her retirement party, the faculty and staff of the college presented her with a beautiful wood box filled with cards printed with thoughtful comments and reflections her colleagues wrote about her. After the party, I was reading the comments and I was moved by all the tributes. But one comment in particular struck me like a bolt of lightning. The comment was to the effect that R never approached things with an agenda. That rang true to me, as I figured no ambition = no agenda.

But the comment didn’t end there. R’s colleague went on to say that because R had no agenda, she always approached things with the best interests of the students and faculty at heart and with the aim of doing what’s right. That was the lightning bolt part. Indeed, it’s precisely because R didn’t have an agenda and ambition for herself and her career, that she was always able to steer toward being fair, finding consensus, and doing what she could to help others.

That last part also made me realize something about R that I’d never focused on before: of us three sisters, she has always been the most people-focused. In other words, her ambition was about forging bonds with others. Indeed, by going about her career in her way and on her own terms (rather than based on her little sister’s terms), she not only fulfill her desire to connect with others, she made a big difference in so many peoples’ lives. Who could ask for anything more from one’s career or life?

As it happens, last night I attended a women’s networking event sponsored by a big law firm. The event and panel of speakers centered around the launch of a book called The Collective Wisdom of High-Performing Women: Leadership Lessons from The Judy Project, edited by Colleen Moorehead. As you might imagine, the topic of women’s relationship with ambition was front and centre in the discussion. The first thing that stood out to me was the acknowledgement that even successful women find talking about ambition uncomfortable. Boy did I need to hear that, given my wrestling with whether to write about ambition today.

Ms. Moorehead, who hosted the event, kicked off the discussion by explaining that one of the messages that came through from the stories the women execs shared for the book is that women have redefined ambition. Rather than defining ambition based on the model that’s centered on greed and self-promotion, for women ambition tends to be broader and more inclusive. Moorehead calls it a “collective ambition” that manifests itself in ambition for one’s company or one’s team. Man-oh-man, that definition describes R’s version of ambition to a tee.

Before leaving the event, I went up to Ms. Moorehead to tell her how much I enjoyed the event and that I’m looking forward to reading the book. I also told her about the guilt I felt about having misjudged my sister as lacking ambition when, in fact, she’s always had an inclusive ambition. Colleen smiled and nodded.

As I turned to leave, she said, “Just be proud of your sister.” I turned back to look at her and assured her I am very proud of both my sisters and lucky to have them as role models.

© 2019 Ingrid Sapona


On being … spoiled, really?

By Ingrid Sapona

I don’t watch Game of Thrones. I don’t live under a rock, though, so I do know that a few Sundays ago fans were eagerly awaiting the premiere episode of the final season. But, other than the fact that the show is very violent and that there are dragons, I don’t know much more about it. As for the Avengers movie premiere that same weekend, the only thing I was curious about was who they’d cast in the roles of John Steed and Mrs. Peel. I couldn’t imagine anyone as dashing as Patrick Macnee or as sexy as Diana Rigg. Boy was I surprised when I heard the new movie’s about Marvel cartoon superheroes! (Surely I’m not the only person who thinks of a bowler hat and straight black cane when they hear of the Avengers.)

In the days after these (apparently) long-awaited premiers, there was almost as much talk about “spoiler alerts” as there was about what folks actually thought of the shows. I found the whole spoiler alert stuff over the top. Folks who complain about others spoiling things for them are self-centered whiners. If you didn’t get a chance to see the movie or the show as soon as it came out, that means something else in your real life took precedent. That’s life, folks. Besides, the shows aren’t like a total solar eclipse that only comes around to your area once or twice in your lifetime. Once a show or movie’s been released, you can catch it nearly on demand.

I think the burden of avoiding hearing about what happens is on the person who wants to remain in the dark. Of course, that would mean they might have to unplug from social media for a few days. Oh no! They might also have to avoid the coffee room at work if co-workers are in there, in case they decide to discuss it. It’s true, they may even have to avoid some traditional newscasts because the mandatory end-of-show banter might give something away. But relax … in a day or two the anchors will be chatting about some other non-news “news”.

I don’t see how knowing particular details – or even the ending – of a story really spoils it. Knowing that the ship goes down certainly didn’t spoil The Titanic for the millions of folks who went to see it. That’s because enjoying movies, shows, and stories isn’t just about knowing what happens or even the plot twists that get you to the ending. Besides, knowing what to expect can free you to pay attention in a different way. (The viewer who spotted the Starbucks coffee cup in that scene in Game of Thrones, for example, certainly wasn’t as focused on the plot or even the action of the scene.)

I think people who worry that their enjoyment will be spoiled if they learn anything about the plot or ending are missing the point. They don’t realize that in movies, shows and life, it’s the journey that provides the thrills, chills, intrigue, and satisfaction.

I imagine you’re probably thinking it’s a bit odd that the whole spoiler alert “phenomenon” bothered me enough to write a column about it. I’ve been thinking about that too. What bothers me is the amount of time and social energy that’s spent on things like superhero movies and fantasy dramas. In the meanwhile, folks are ignoring the very real, very terrible things going on in the real world.

Well, here’s a spoiler alert for you: while everyone’s busy escaping into fantasy worlds, folks aren’t paying enough attention to things here on planet earth. Indeed, the way things are going politically – and climactically – unless more of us start taking notice and action, I worry the ending may come sooner than we believe is possible and none of us are going to enjoy the journey.

© 2019 Ingrid Sapona


On being … a dose of consciousness raising

By Ingrid Sapona

Though I’ve never been particularly interested in fashion, I was intrigued by an article by an assistant professor of fashion design, ethics, and sustainability who teaches in the school of fashion at a Canadian university. The professor’s main point was that “fashion lovers need to reflect on how their consumption has an undeniably negative impact on both planet and people.”

The author talked about the slavery-like conditions of the millions of third-world workers, the majority of whom are women. She also talked about environmental degradation and pollution caused by the fashion industry, as well as the fact that more than 70% of the 53 million tonnes of fibre produced each year by the industry ends up in landfill or bonfires. One of the surprising statistics she mentioned is that the average number of times a garment is worn before it ceases to be used has decreased by 36% in 15 years. She also talked about “fast” fashion, which she defined as clothing that’s disposed of in less than one year.

The professor believes business as usual is no longer an option for the fashion industry. She set out some steps we can take that she thinks will make a difference. Besides paying attention to where one’s clothes are made and supporting ethical producers, she urges curbing overconsumption. She encourages consumers to join a campaign started in 2016 by Livia Firth (actor Colin Firths’ wife) called: #30wearscampaign. The idea behind the campaign is to ask yourself – before you buy an item of clothing – whether you’ll wear it at least 30 times. If yes, then buy it. But, if you don’t think you would, don’t buy it.

Neither the article nor the link to a story about the #30wearscampaign explained the significance of the number 30. So, I assume it’s relatively arbitrary. But, I think it’s a pretty reasonable number to get people to stop treating clothing as disposable. Clearly, with things worn every day (like socks and underwear) 30 is low. But, if you’re talking about a top you might wear every couple weeks to work, wearing it 30 times means you’d wear it for more than a year. So, even if 30 is arbitrary, you have to admit it seems a reasonable goal.  

I’m glad I took the time to read the article. It left me thinking about both my relationship to clothing and clothing’s impact on our environment in general. More importantly, it gave me parameters for measuring my own behavior vis-à-vis clothing and the environment. And, it got me thinking about other areas of consumption that I might gloss over but shouldn’t. Indeed, shortly after, a different area of consumption came into my focus.

My main client right now is in the electricity sector and I spend a lot of time at their office. When the dishwasher in their kitchen broke recently, they got a new one. A stick-on label on the front provided some sort of efficiency number. The fact there was such a label leads you to believe it’s a high-efficiency model.

People in that office are in the habit of running the dishwasher every day. Someone usually starts it right after lunch because people like to take home clean lunch containers for the next day. The first time they ran the new machine they chose the “turbo” cycle, thinking it would be quicker than the normal or heavy-duty options. It’s an understatement to say everyone was surprised when it became clear that the 3:00 showing on what looked like a digital clock in need of programming was actually the cycle duration.

When the cycle was done, we consulted the manual that came with the dishwasher. That’s when we learned that the “turbo” cycle (which does, indeed, run for 3 hours) uses less water than the other cycles. While that was interesting information, given that the company’s focus is electricity, everyone wanted to know how the different cycles compare in terms of energy use. Sadly, the manual didn’t provide that information.

Clearly, the dishwasher’s manufacturer – or perhaps the organization that grants the efficiency labels for such appliances – considers water use paramount. And you know, maybe as between water and energy use for dishwashers, that should be one’s primary concern. Though I feel a bit better knowing I only run my dishwasher only when it’s full, my motivation’s been because I figure it’s probably a big consumer of electricity. I’m embarrassed to admit that I never considered the issue of the amount of water a cycle takes. 

Though the connection between an article about fast fashion and efficiency ratings on dishwashers may not seem connected at first blush, to me they’re very much related. They both made me think about tracking my consumption based on some actual measure, rather than in the abstract. In short, they provided a dose of consciousness raising about my consumption, which never hurts, I think.

What about you? Do you give much thought to the different things you consume? Would applying some measuring standard help you change your consumption behaviour? Should we be doing more of that??

© 2019 Ingrid Sapona


On being … over it

By Ingrid Sapona

After writing about not having a favourite restaurant, a friend forwarded a travel article featuring 10 Toronto restaurants. She’s retired but used to come to Toronto on business and she used to like being up on the Toronto restaurant scene.

When I had a look at the list, I wasn’t surprised I hadn’t heard of most of them. There was one I’ve been to and another one I’d at least heard of. The one I’ve been too has been around for years but I think it’s a dud. I wrote her back, confessing I’d never heard of most of them. I also told her about my surprise at the one on the list that I’d NEVER recommend. As I told her, if that restaurant made it on a “must try” list, I consider the list questionable.

Later that afternoon she forwarded me a NY Times opinion piece. It was titled: “The Best Restaurant if You’re Over 50”. It was by Frank Bruni, a former NY Times restaurant critic who’s now “over 50”. It was an interesting piece. One of his comments got me thinking. He said, “What you want from restaurants, it turns out, is a proxy for what you want from love and from life.” He went on to explain what he sought from restaurants at different times in his life. In his mid-30s he wanted things that made him feel special. In his mid-40s he wanted things that made him feel sophisticated. Now, in his mid-50s, he wants things like martinis – in other words, things that he’s certain about and is certain about what they do for him.

Bruni also talked about what he’s learned from restaurant owners with respect to what older diners want. Apparently, restaurateurs have found that older diners are more likely to be “regulars”. Bruni chalks this up to becoming more creatures of habit as we get older. I think he may be right about that.

Though I used pay attention to which restaurants were hot (even if my budget didn’t allow me to try that many of them) – I’m just not that interested in what’s new anymore. Now, I value a restaurant’s proximity, hygge, and friendliness over unusual flavours and exotic ingredients. Bruni’s piece got me thinking about other areas – besides dining out – where my “appetite” has changed. Sailing and live entertainment – theatre and concerts – are the two best examples.

Though I’ve always been a fair weather sailor on my own boat, for years I enjoyed racing on others’ boats. Part of the appeal was the chance to get out on bigger, better equipped boats. Part of it was also the rush of adrenaline knowing that we’d race no matter how heavy the winds or how high the swells.

But, at some point, I noticed that the job of yanking in a huge, wind-filled sail as fast as possible so that we might move a tenth of a knot faster started to feel more like work than fun. That’s when I decided I’d had enough racing. Now, my idea of a terrific afternoon is being on the lake with just enough breeze to move the boat merrily along and then returning to shore for an après sail barbecue.

As for live entertainment, while my tastes haven’t changed that much, what I’m willing to do to partake has changed quite dramatically. I used to be willing to stand in line for hours to get tickets for concerts and shows. If a theatre had rush seats, I was always game to take a chance and wait in line in hopes of getting in. Or, if a concert had lawn seats or an area that was general admission, friends and I thought nothing of getting to the venue hours before show time to secure a good spot. Part of it was the thrill of getting a good deal on a show I wanted to see but couldn’t afford to pay a premium for. Part of it was also the social aspect of being part of the crowd of fans for that particular show.

Last time I waited hours for a show was in 2011. It was a concert by Aretha Franklin at the Toronto Jazz Festival. I went with a dear friend and his wife. They’re really into music and I’m sure they’d have paid top dollar to hear Aretha, but that wasn’t an option because it was a free concert. To ensure a good spot, my friend got there early in the afternoon and his wife and I joined him in line after work. We ended up waiting more than three hours and then had to stand for the whole concert.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m glad I saw the Queen of Soul before she passed away. But, waiting in line that day I promised myself I’d not do that again. I just don’t have the patience for it any more. Hell, I won’t even put up with overly complicated ticket ordering processes. (For example, for some film festivals you have to first buy a voucher and then you later exchange the voucher for a ticket once the screenings are announced. Can you say pain in the a--?) For me, that kind of thing pretty much takes the joy out of even wanting to see a show.

I think the best way to sum up how I feel is that I’m over it. The thrill of the hard to get – or the hard to get into – no longer tugs at me. Instead, I relish hassle-free pursuits and pleasures. What about you? Have your “appetites” changed over the years?

 © 2019 Ingrid Sapona


On being … a favourite?

By Ingrid Sapona

Some friends from out-of-town recently visited. In advance of their trip, we exchanged emails about going out for dinner. They asked me to pick a restaurant. I suggested a couple places I thought they might be interested in trying. Turns out they had been to them and didn’t seem that interested in going back to either.

I honestly didn’t care one way or the other, so I said whatever they had in mind would be fine. They insisted that wasn’t the point – they wanted to take me out to dinner wherever I wanted. I said that was a gracious offer, but I still wanted their input because choosing a place can be hard. They then said, “Let’s just go to your favourite restaurant!” Sweet idea, I know – but, as I told them, I don’t have a favourite restaurant. I don’t think they believed me.

The truth is, I always feel uncomfortable when asked about my favourites because I don’t have a favourite anything. I know it sounds odd, but it’s true. That’s not to say I don’t like – or even love – things. There are plenty of things I have no problem saying I really like. But, I’ve never been able to choose favourites. What I don’t know is whether that makes me odd. Does everyone have a favourite this or that?

Here’s one that comes up a lot, for example: favourite movie. I don’t have one. I think my family would say that my favourite movie is White Christmas – and I do love that it. But, I also love It’s a Wonderful Life. I could never choose one over the other, which I’d have to do to declare one of them my favourite. Another one that comes up fairly often in casual conversation is favourite food. Nuts and cheese certainly are at the top of my list, but I can’t honestly say I favour one over the other.

So, when the subject of favourites comes up, rather than go into a long song and dance about not having favourites, my normal response is to re-frame the question. For example, I often provide a short list – say three to five “favourites”. Or I may re-frame it as things I’d really miss – or wouldn’t want to live without (cheese and nuts are prime examples of that). Another re-frame I’ve used is places or things I’d recommend without hesitation. That one’s helpful for things like recipes I like, or places I’ve visited.

While I’ve never run across anyone who’s objected to my reframed answers, I’m always aware that those responses – while true – are really my way of skirting the issue of not being able to choose a favourite. What does that say about me? I don’t know…

I’ve considered it from a number of different angles: Does it reflect some deep-seated fear of commitment? (After all, the idea of choosing one to the exclusion of others is really what commitment’s all about.) Does it mean that I’m so repressed that I don’t enjoy things as much as others? Am I afraid to choose a favourite because I’d be heartbroken if I were never able to see, eat, partake, or experience the thrill of that favourite whatever again?

Is it this complicated for everyone? I’m guessing not, given how easily some people talk about their favourite (fill in the blank). What about you? Can you easily reel off your favourites? If so, what’s your secret?

About that dinner with my friends from out-of-town… On the day they were coming up, I still hadn’t made a decision. So, when I ran into someone from my condo, I blurted out, “Do you have a favourite restaurant in this neighborhood?” (I know absolutely nothing about how culinarily discerning he might be, but what the hell.) He cocked his head and thought for a minute and said, “Yeah – there are a couple places we like”. He named two places, and I chose one. It ended up being terrific – very good food and reasonable (for Toronto). Indeed, given that it’s a place I’d definitely go back to and a place I’d recommend without hesitation, it’s about as close as I come to a favourite.

© 2019 Ingrid Sapona


On being … subjectively objective

By Ingrid Sapona

It’s funny the insecurities we carry with us. For as long as I can remember, I feel a surge of anxiety anytime someone uses the words subjective or objective. They’re concepts I always worry that I’ll confuse. To this day, I still look them up.

You may have heard about a political scandal brewing here in Canada. At the risk of being accused of leaving out key facts – here’s an abridged version. In 2015 SNC Lavalin, a huge, Quebec-based multinational engineering and construction firm was charged with violating anti-corruption laws for bribing Libyan officials. The trial hasn’t started yet. If found guilty, SNC would be barred from bidding on federal government contracts for 10 years.

Last year Parliament passed a law allowing for deferred prosecution agreements. Under such agreements, the government drops the charges in exchange for the company paying a huge fine and agreeing to conditions. SNC has been actively pursuing such an agreement – in court and by lobbying government officials. The Director of Public Prosecution, who reports to the Attorney General, has denied SNC’s request.

Canada’s Attorney General also wears the hat of Justice Minister. In January, as a result of someone quitting the cabinet, the Prime Minister (PM) shuffled his cabinet and he moved Jody Wilson-Raybould, the Justice Minister/Attorney General, to the Ministry of Veterans Affairs. Politically naïve person that I am, I didn’t see that as a demotion – apparently, many folks did.

Nonetheless, Wilson-Raybould accepted the new appointment and life went on.  That is, until there was a news story from an unattributed source that claimed Wilson-Raybould was removed as Justice Minister because she refused to interfere with the Public Prosecutor’s decision not to grant SNC a deferred prosecution agreement. The Prime Minister denied the allegation, saying that the decision was always Wilson-Raybould’s to make. At the time, because of attorney-client privilege, Wilson-Raybould felt she couldn’t comment about it.

Of course, that didn’t settle the matter. A few days later, after an ethics probe was announced, the PM said he had spoken with Wilson-Raybould about SNC but he thought the fact she remained in his cabinet speaks for itself. The next day, she resigned from cabinet. Ultimately, the PM partially waived attorney-client and cabinet privilege and so she was able to testify before the Justice Committee.

I didn’t have much of an opinion about Wilson-Raybould before this incident. The only things I knew about her was that she’s a lawyer, she’s indigenous, and she was a Regional Chief of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations before she became a Member of Parliament in 2015.

In the days leading up to her testimony, Wilson-Raybould was quoted as saying she was looking forward to “telling my truth”. I found that language – the idea of her having “her truth” – really irritating. It reminded me of Trump’s advisor Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts” idea.

Why couldn’t Wilson-Raybould just say she was looking forward to telling her side of the story? I’ll tell you why: because “my truth” is much more powerful – it rings of truth, after all. I objected to her playing fast and loose with the concept of truth. I’ve always thought of truth as something that’s universal. So referring to something as “my truth” just seems wrong to me.

Wilson-Raybould’s testimony was interesting. Apparently she had made up her mind on the SNC matter back in September. It was – and remains – her legal judgment that it would be improper for the Justice Minister to override the Director of Public Prosecutions on the matter and so she refused to. Furthermore, though she felt she’d made her decision known to the PM, his staff, and others, they continued to press her to reconsider.

She testified that she thought the sustained pressure was inappropriate and amounted to political interference, but she agreed it wasn't illegal. She also said she looked the Prime Minister in the eye and asked him if he was politically interfering with her role and her decision as the Attorney General. In her words, she said the PM said, “No, no, no – we just need to find a solution.” And also, she said that she felt that ultimately, her decision resulted in the Prime Minister moving her to the Veterans Affairs portfolio.

Since Wilson-Raybould’s testimony, other witnesses have given evidence to the Justice Committee on this matter, and the Prime Minister presented his side of the story in a press conference. Many have characterized the whole thing as merely a “he said versus she said” situation. My take on it is that what constitutes undue pressure is – if I’ve got this right – subjective. And, though Wilson-Raybould has her truth about why she was shuffled to Veterans Affairs, others have voiced a different truth on that point.

Honestly, I’m sad by the whole thing. We’ve lost a good Justice Minister and I’d hate for this to end up sinking the PM’s chances in the fall election. But, on a personal note, it’s helped me realize that from now on, it really doesn’t matter whether I keep the difference between subjective and objective straight. After all, it seems that if everyone has their own truth, it’s safe to say that what’s objective is … well … subjective.

© 2019 Ingrid Sapona


On being … home

By Ingrid Sapona

Funny, the memories we store growing up. Funnier still, the way they come back to us …

Today’s the 30th anniversary of my “landing” in Canada. Odd term, I know. Those old enough to remember the first lunar landing will understand my sister’s tease at the time: “‘the Ingrid has landed’ – it sounds like ‘the Eagle has landed’,” she joked. Anyway, Feb. 28, 1989 was the day I got Landed Immigrant status, which meant I could legally live in Canada and work without restriction.

Being a landed immigrant was also a necessary first step in the process of my becoming a Canadian citizen. In 2004 I wrote an On being … about the 10th anniversary of becoming a citizen. That column was about what citizenship means to me. I talked about the fact that for most people in the western world, citizenship is a birthright that they often don’t think a lot about.

Today’s column, however, is about how – even though I’ve retained my U.S. citizenship – I can’t really see myself returning to live in the U.S. 

This is where my father comes into the picture…

Dad was born in the U.S. but his family returned to Greece when he was two years old. Though he didn’t speak English and didn’t have a job lined up, toward the end of WWII he hopped a ship to the U.S. Other than stints when he was stationed overseas while in the U.S. army, he spent the rest of his life in the U.S. Indeed, he didn’t return to visit Greece until Mom, Dad, and I went in 1975.

Growing up, I remember the odd occasion when someone would ask Dad if he ever thinks about moving back to Greece. I was always surprise by the speed with which he said “no”. Inevitably, he would then be asked why not. I often got the sense people asking expected some sort of stock answer. I imagine they thought he’d say something about there being more opportunities in the U.S. – you know, that old saw about the streets being paved in gold. But, Dad didn’t have a pat answer. Instead, he made vague references to things changing but he never really elaborated.

On our trip in 1975, I wondered whether visiting the old country might stir any dormant thoughts about returning to live there. While there, I couldn’t help but notice his face light up when a relative served him a particular food he loved during his childhood. Or his smile when he reminisced with an old aunt about his boyhood antics while he visited the family farm. Interestingly, though he was delighted to be there and he clearly still fit in, he was nostalgic but not in any way regretful.  

After that trip, he was better able to explain why he didn’t see himself ever moving back. He seemed to have gained clarity and perspective. I think the trip really drove home to him the social and business differences between the countries. Thereafter, when asked, he’d say that going back would require adjustments to things way beyond language and climate.

So, on today’s anniversary of my immigration to Canada, I think I understand how Dad felt about not really being able to return “home”. Over the 30 years, the differences between the nature of Canadians and Americans have become very clear to me. Though we speak the same language and have prospered thanks to many of the same bountiful resources, there are significant differences that can be traced as far back as the documents each country is built on.
The U.S.’s founding principle is that individuals are entitled to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. In contrast, the founding principle enshrined in Canada’s Constitution Act of 1867 is that Parliament has the power to make laws for “the peace, order, and good government of Canada”.

The stark contrast between the U.S. focus on the rights of the individual versus Canada’s emphasis on the rights of the collective seems to have gotten sharper over the years that I’ve lived here. The whole idea of Trump’s wall – whether it comes to pass as an actual physical barrier or not – is symbolic of the direction the U.S. is going. I see the U.S.’s increasing isolationism as a national symptom of the desire to pursue one’s self-interest. That’s not a goal I share.

Meanwhile, during my years here in Canada I’ve seen first hand the benefits of striving for a collective good. Whether it’s looking for ways to try to tame climate change, or making it possible for at least some of the displaced Syrians and other refugees make a life here, or sending military in support of U.N. peacekeeping activities, Canadians truly seem to believe that we’re all in this together.

Where we come from imprints on our soul in ways we’re often not even aware of. But home is the place you end up as a result of the choices you make. I couldn’t be happier to call Canada home.

© 2019 Ingrid Sapona