Everyone is a pompous critic, but some are better than others and I was glad that someone other than yours truly noticed a few curious omissions from last week's opening ceremony of the Vancouver Winter Olympics — and we don't just mean the unfortunate absence of the Queen of Canada.
Vancouver, British Columbia has an urban residential core denser than Manhattan, making it one of the world's most liveable cities
As Lona Manning from British Columbia writes, the opening ceremony seemed to feature a remarkable vanishing of Captain George Vancouver himself:
The so-called "Cultural Segment" of the Opening Ceremony of the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games featured a giant bear, killer whales, maple leafs, a Druidic ballet among the towering Douglas Firs, totem poles, golden fields of prairie wheat, and some of our wonderful Canadian performers, most notably K.D. Lang.A Roman Catholic priest responds:
But displays of Canada's astounding beauty do not a "cultural segment" make. In the entire ceremony, there was no reference to Canada's history -- no Jesuit missionaries, no fur trade, no transcontinental railway, no lumberjacks, no gold rush, no fishermen, no reference to our Britannic heritage. Because of course we couldn't touch on any of those subjects without making apologetic references to imperialism and environmental degradation. The dignitaries praised our multiculturalism of course. What else could they safely praise, after all. I really enjoyed, and was moved by, the First Nations segment, in which dozens of First Nations performers from across the country danced and sang and welcomed the athletes. But it was no surprise to me that the rest of us have reached the stage where we cannot -- cannot -- talk about ourselves. What is the fate of a culture that cannot talk about itself, I wonder. Thank goodness for the fiddlers, at least.
Two observations: "First Nations" dances tend to be religious in nature. Why are they the only people in Canada who are allowed to have religious ceremonies at state and national functions? She is right and wrong in saying "we cannot...talk about ourselves." We can but only negatively, condescendingly, and apologetically. The greatest civilization the world has ever known* (though now in serious moral and cultural decline) must humble itself before its detractors and inferiors.
*By the way, that is not an empty, puffed up boast. Choose the area (art, science, technology, politics, medicine, religion, justice, family life, world literature, philosophy, sports and entertainment) and I can make a strong argument that the West has contributed more in each of these areas than any and probably all other civilizations combined. Just one example. Arnold Toynbee estimated that there have been 21 major civilizations in world history. Did any of those civilizations substantially increase the life-expectancy of its population? In the last 200 years the West has increased the life-expectancy of its people from about 40 years to 80. From the point of view of human physical flourishing what compares to that from India , Persia or China ? And not only have we increased our own life expectancy but also that of most of the rest of the world. This is an unprecedented feat in recorded history! It is an achievement beyond measure and yet we are scorned. Detractors you will always have with you. A healthy civilization can deal with them. But one that has lost its sense of purpose and self-confidence is dead even while it lives.