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Old 05-14-2004, 10:57 PM   #1
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The United States, Canada..converging values?

I just finished reading a very interesting book entitled, The United States, Canada, and the Myth of Converging Values

I found this a very enlighting read as a Canadian, and I'm sure Americans would find it interesting. If fact, I've read reviews by american readers and they more or less liked it. Aside from the fact that it is aimed at a canadian audience and, as one american put it,
"if you are a thin skinned American then I would not suggest you reading this book. It is not that the author takes any nasty cheap shots at Americans. It is just that he does not sugar coat the differences when they are more negative toward the American side. I could not argue with any of his comments, it was just that he was exposing some of the rather unsightly bits about the US and at times that can be uncomfortable for an American."

Anyway, onto the book.

1. Michael Adams makes the assertion that Canada and the United States are actually diverging in the values they hold. On the broad scale, Canadians are drifting to a life centered more on fulfillment. Americans, on the other hand tend towards a life centered on survival.

this is due, says adams, in part to the American Dream. This concept in ingrained into the youth and they are taught that with a little hard work anyone can make it. Americans are the hardest working people in the west afterall.
This means they stive to achieve material success and surround themselevs with "status symbols" like an SUV or that nice suburban home with a two car garage and a big lawn out back. With motives are outwardly directed

Canadians, however, strive more for a sense of fulfillment. You might be hard put to it to find a Canadian in his/her 20's that is thinking about starting a career. We are usually still "finding ourselves" at that point. Maybe comtemplating the fabled "europe backpacking trip". (this is seen much larger with canadians in BC and around the rocky mountains) Or we may be embarking on a spiritual quest.

2. Traditional vs. Post modern
One of the most interesting questions Adams asked in his 10 year long survey study was "Do you believe the father should be the master of his own home".
With each year American response went higher and higher and canadian response lower and lower. In the end 59% of americans polled said yes and the canadian amount was in the teens. in Texas it was 71%

Canadians are more postmodern. In fact, all other western countries are tending towards postmodernism, while America seems to be entrenching itself deeper into tradition. This is called "American Exceptionalism". And its actually counterintuitive because America started as the liberal revolutionary country. People came to america for the freedom of religion. Canada, however, was very conservative and its government was directly linked to the church.

Post modernism also includes, tolerance for feminism (which is much lower in america than most western countries), other religions, immigration. Of course, we have all heard that america is the "melting pot" and canada the "mosiac". But it's more than just cliche. Many americas really believe the immigrants should shed their old cultures and languages to unify with the american body. And so we see higher amounts of Xenophobia and racism in America. There is racism in canada, of course, but it's very low compared with the US

Americans are also more deferential to authority, be it church or political. In the poll a vast number said they believed it was necessary to follow a leader.
In canada, however, people want to question authority much more.


it seems as though America displays much more masculine qualities, whereas Canadians, much more feminine

America honors the lone fighting warrior fighting for truth and justice, the father who is the master of his lonely house on the prairie,a and few good men planting stars and stripes on a distant planet.

I could write much more but I'll sum up with this quote.

By adolescene and often earlier in life, AMericans find themselves in an intense, often dangerous struggle for survival - or a winner -take-all quest for success. In such a context, traditional authorites serve as anchors: a strong father, a strong police force, a strong military, a strong nation, the president and commander-in-cheif...Life is a Manichean struggle between good and evil, winners and losers, and the only way good will prevail is by being the strongest, vanquished the "evil empire" or the "axis of evil" or the next incarnation of the forces of evil.

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Old 05-14-2004, 10:58 PM   #2
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Old 05-15-2004, 02:08 AM   #3
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Sounds like an interesting read Basstrap.

Having lived on both sides of the border, I don't see the massive incongruity that most perceive as reality. For me, it's disturbing to observe the rhetoric, in all its redundancy and complacency. The Canadian strive for sovereignty and identity is dependent on its relationship with the United States, a trend which used to be reflected in the residues of monarchy. As a result, independence becomes the main reason for the tension following any apparent slight on the Canadian personality... the whole continent needs to be less sensitive, especially with regards to satire. In this case, generalizing is moot... the diversity within each nation makes it difficult to discuss contrasts on a whole (I was impressed that the author addressed that frequent enough).

Traditionalism is an ethic that is prized from North to South (and South to North, not to alienate anyone). Although the degree of political enforcement appears to be the rift that the magnifying glass perpetuates...
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