Thursday, July 26, 2007

Why I Take Transit

Where else can you have a random conversation with a group of strangers from all corners of the planet about the origin of the english language? At 11:00 PM on the Finch bus, no less?

Walking home from the bus stop, I wound up continuing the conversation with a Russian who immigrated from the Ukraine. While I was sort of criticizing the english language and the way it tends to homogenize cultures and customs, I was also glad to have a common tongue so I could easily talk with someone from the other side of the world. It was a kind of have your cake and eat it too moment.

I love talking to people who have immigrated to Canada. I have the utmost respect for anyone who has chosen to move to a different country to have a better life. Think of how difficult that is. I mean, I come back from the States amazed and sometimes bewildered by all the differences between that country and mine. To travel half way around the world? To risk all of one's savings? To give up everything that is familiar and safe? I don't know if I could do it.

That's something I wish more people would understand. Before you start laughing at or, even worse, complaining about immigrants, think about what they have gone through to be in the same country that you were born in. This sounds preachy, but it's true. Too often I've met people who resent immigrants. People who go to great lengths to highlight the differences when they really should be looking at the similarities. People who harbour ridiculous resentment against people for trying to maintain traditions and all because these traditions are somehow "not Canadian", whatever the heck that means.

I wish these people would just wake up and see that, while there are differences, these differences should be explored and celebrated, not mocked and denigrated. I'm going to step right out on a limb, catch my balance, and make a tv analogy. These are people that go home and expect 50 or 100 channels on their tvs. They want 30 varieties of donuts at Tim Horton's and a whole wall full of choices at the beer store. Why, then, are they so willing to accept just one type of Canadian citizen? Sounds kind of boring to me.

That's how I spent my commute. I doubt any of this would have happened had I owned a car.

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