Are you Molson, or are you Canadian?
Or perhaps a sickening combination of both?
Mind you, I loved Summerfest (great job all volunteers), but I couldn't help but feel super-saturated by the domineering presence of Molson advertising. I tell you, I loved Canada Day, but I absolutely loathed hearing our national anthem preceded or even replaced by a beer commercial ploy. And to have someone tell me, "Yeah, I was told to pick a Canadian theme, so I chose My Name is Joe and I am Canadian", makes me distraught.
I remember in 1995, I was at a conference, and we were privileged enough to be allowed (after normal hours) to occupy the Senate (the actual Senate) and debate real issues. One of those issues was our national identity. I sat there listening to person after person after person talk about our lack (or absence) of identity, except in the way that we differentiate ourselves from Americans.
So I boldly I took the floor, and said that I hear the opinions around me but I must disagree. Every time I watch Hockey Night in Canada, I told them, every time I devour fresh maple syrup, every time I speak French, every time I sing my national anthem in two languages, and even every time I think about my entrenched Charter of Freedoms and the rights prescribed to me therein, and I see the flag of the country that I love, the country that has supported me in an open and free environment, and I watch it ripple in the sun, I said, I know that I know what it means to be Canadian.
That's what I told them.
Notice I didn't say that "I am Canadian". The debate carried on between some of us even after the formal arguments had ended. I refused to believe that our identity was nothing more than illusion or reactionary to America. We are multicultural, and our strength is diversity; while that makes a national culture hard to identify, it is there, and it is strong, I thought.
Then the Molson Canadian commercial. I'll admit it, even I was stirred. But look at what it's become. Look at how a corporation takes advantage of our pride, the national pulse that we have such a hard time getting our finger on, and employs it as an advertising gimmick. Where was that pride before the commercial? And where will it be after? I guess I feel annoyed that we needed a commercial to discover a sense of belonging in our nation. And maybe I'm confused as to why the same people who argued against national unity rally around Molson's advertising campaign. Damn advertising.
It reminds me a bit of Santa Claus. Yeah, Santa. I remember going to some museum in Ottawa and seeing an entire room full of Santa pictures. Cool, I thought. Then I read the captions and saw the red Coca-cola labels all over the place, and realized that Santa Claus was/is a Coca-cola product. The idea of St. Nick predates Coke, yes, but the image, the first pictures of Santa Claus, that was Coke. The whole notion of Santa (ie- a jolly old man with a white beard and red get-up, who symbolizes notions of being nice and good and gives out free gifts from his sleigh) was a industry-based advertising venture. I felt as sick then with Coke as I do now with Molson's.
Back to national pride and Canada Day. What kinda cheap scoundrel steals a Canadian flag from someone else? There were three Canadian flags displayed in front of our houses, between us and our neighbours, and when we got back from the fireworks (which, for those who missed the Ottawa show, was the BEST EVER in Canada), one had been stolen. I think it made me sad more than mad, that someone actually enjoys doing that, that someone would/could/did actually do that.
More great tales of Jesse's co-op adventures... so I decide I would call up one of my job offers that I didn't select and tell them "Thank-you, I really appreciated it..." because I did. So I dial the number and it turns out to be a home number. Anyway, it takes three minutes to get the guy to the phone, and when he does, I say to him "Yes, my name is Jesse and I just wanted to thank you for the opportunity you presented to me but I've selected another company." At which point he says, "Wait a minute, I thought you did accept with us???!!!" "Isn't this Mr. Smith from Company Y?", I asked. "Yes, it's Mr. Smith, but I'm not from company Y, I'm from the company who hired you!".
Turns out I wrote down my future manager's name and number beside another job that I did not select. So it ended up that the first words I said to my future manager for my next coop term were "Thank you for the offer, but I chose something else." Great. The good news is that after I corrected my mistake we talked and I'm looking forward to the project that I'll be working on.
As excited as I am to work for my next coop job though, I can't help but be excited at the prospect of teaching. I know all these awesome people who are going in and getting awesome teaching positions, and I am so psyched for them, like I am living vicariously through them.
It makes me think, too, that although I love the challenges of this (high tech) industry, I had better stick to my vision when I finish my degree and do what I love, not what pays well. I have heard all these great stories about high-tech grads who ignore the money offers and head for the things they love, and for them I have all the respect. I hope I am as strong as they are when I graduate and get offers of money and such.
Someone said to me the other day how they think that this friend of theirs has done so much, and I started thinking, how much have I done? It feels kinda like the way that old people describe the end of life, about having regrets about things not done. As the end of University closes in (someone pinch me, is it really 4A?), have I accomplished my goals? Have I successfully completely what I set out to do? Cause that wasn't just get a degree, which, cross my fingers, looks like I will get.
And have I finally resolved all the questions I had coming into University? This mosquito landed on me, and someone told me to kill it. Why? It was just sitting there on my clothes, hanging out, chilling. So it sat there, and then flew away. We have so many bugs in our house, and it's funny isn't it, how we're sorta taught bugs are bad, or bugs are dirty, or we fear them, but they're just another species making a living on the planet, no less significant than any other organism. It seems as though that we've kinda been taught to be at war with other species, and only those we "permit" to grow actually have a right to be there, whereas others, like insects, are intruders. I'm not sure I believe that anymore.
The powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be? (Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society)