For what is a nation?I have heard the same sentiments from Canadians of my generation who are unsettled by the passing of a way of life they considered good, right, and normal.
Is it not a people of a common ancestry, culture, and language who worship the same God, revere the same heroes, cherish the same history, celebrate the same holidays, share the same music, poetry, art, literature, held together, in Lincoln’s words, by “bonds of affection ... mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-ﬁeld, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearth-stone”?
If that is what a nation is, can we truly say America is still a nation? The European and Christian core of our country is shrinking. The birth rate of our native born has been below replacement level for decades. By 2020, deaths among white Americans will exceed births, while mass immigration is altering forever the face of America.
In our nostalgic moments, we tend to remember the best of those times, and mourn their passing.
Those 40 years old and under, now about half the population, don't remember those "good old days." They didn't come of age in that homogeneous society where most folks didn't encounter many people of other races or religions, or people who were openly gay, or women who deliberately chose motherhood out of wedlock.
This is the generation that is defining the new normal around race, sexuality, family, and religion.
Some of us oldtimers are open to this, some are thinking it over, and others will have none of it. Each to his own. This stuff is bone deep, and change is hard.
But on the whole, we are becoming a more accepting, less hypocritical, country.
Mixed race marriages no longer raise eyebrows, nor do couples who opt not to be parents. Gay couples have the option to marry, and everyone has the option to create a family outside of marriage. One's religion, or lack of it, is considered a private matter. Having a family of another race move in next door is not cause for alarm.
I am describing the cities, of course, where most Canadians now live. The towns and the rural areas are still making the shift because diversity arrived later there, but that shift is inevitable.
And based on recent reports, it seems Canadians of all origins share "bonds of affection" for their country, too. That's good.
Not a perfect place but, while some will disagree, I think it's a better kind of nation.