Thursday, July 11, 2013

When You Move to Another Country it’s Time to Leave Some Baggage Behind

It’s everywhere throughout the world, you see longer term residents of countries not getting along with recent immigrants and it largely because both sides aren’t really willing to leave some of their own baggage behind. It is more obvious with the recent immigrant because they are often dressed in clothes that are native to their former country. There probably would be less friction if the immigrant was dressed in a Nike t-shirt and wore sneakers instead of a turban if the move was from India to North America.

And the opposite would be true if the move was in the other direction but it would be highly unlikely for a North American to don a turban and leave the t-shirt and sneakers behind. It’s not just about the clothes though. It is what they symbolize.

We are very reluctant to leave behind our previous language and culture although some do try very hard to do so. I grew up in Toronto where there was a major influx of Italians coming over from all parts of Italy in the 1960’s. Generally speaking, they spoke Italian a lot at home but would try very hard to use English in the local community and while talking to neighbours so the friction level was reduced. In fact, I took Italian in high school instead of French because I wanted to try to be able to communicate with some of the older and nicer Italian folks in the neighbourhood.

That didn't mean that they refrained from growing vegetables in their backyards and making home-made wine as they did in their native country. Land was scarce where they came from and this new found treasure was too hard to resist. The home-made wine was not to my liking but you learned how to cut it with ginger ale that was delivered to the neighbour’s house from the local Italian soft drink distributor. They wanted to welcome you into your home and share so they fit nicely into the neighbourhood.

At school, you were presented with a veritable melting pot of all cultures imaginable and everyone wore clothes that would make them blend into any crowd. In winter everybody wore a toque (head sock) because that is what you wore on your head to keep it from freezing in Toronto in the winter.

If anyone came to school with a knife, they were immediately suspended. A knife was considered a dangerous weapon and you were breaking the rules (period). We all sang the Canadian National Anthem and recited the Lords’ Prayer to start the day off in every class. The anthem was sung in a loud voice and the prayer was mostly mumbled with the exception of the Catholic kids who were more religious than a lot of other kids in the class. Nobody fought over that stuff in the schoolyard. 

We argued more about whether Johnny Bower or Jacques Plante was a better goalie in the NHL (six teams back then). It was also a stupid argument because they were both superb defenders of their nets and it was more like saying what flies higher a 747 or a DC10? They both fly way up there.

I guess my message is like all the others you see on Facebook. We need to stop being so liberal in our school system and society in general. We got a good paddling at home if we did stupid stuff, we got a smack in the head at school if we were extremely disrespectful or even the strap and we learned how to respect each other. We didn't go around shooting each other and we didn't have gangs in big numbers. There were a few but those were largely all dropouts who would amount to nothing later in life.

I think the whole world needs to show more respect for each other and that means we need to punish those that don’t starting right down there in kindergarten. And I can see all the mom’s practicing attachment parenting and chasing the next bimmer saying “Oh know you can’t do that”. Mom and Dad too, you would be better off staying at home more and teaching your kids some real values and using appropriate punishment for bad behaviour.

You know then the new immigrants might actually want to be more like you and accept the local cultural values more instead of grasping at all manner of reason to justify their need to hang onto all of their baggage. Let them have some but encourage them to take on the new ones in their new home. Instead we threaten them which make them hold on even tighter to the old ways.

Being liberal is not a bad thing if you don’t end up being an extremist and the same can be said for the other side of that argument. We don’t need to be always right wing and left wing.

I thought Dave Keon was a better centre than Henri Richard but I know you would come back with Jean Beliveau was better and I would have to agree. I would then say “You wanna play in or out” and Carlo would always wanna play in and be Johnny Bower. Man I hated losing that one all the time but the game was so much fun and we played just about all day long until our mom’s came and got us.

Sometimes my mom and Mrs. Tuzi would come together and it was kind of funny to watch. My mom didn’t speak Italian and Mrs. Tuzi only knew a few words in English but they were nodding and saying yah yah a lot. They didn’t understand the meat of the conversation but that didn’t matter. They were really good friends.

I last saw Mrs. Tuzi at my mom’s funeral (my mom passed away at the ripe old age of 93). Josepha (Mrs. Tuzi’s first name) was sad to see her friend pass on. Josepha’s English is still lacking but she still knew how to smile at me and express her condolences’ which were much appreciated since they were truly genuine. Carlo (we call him Chuck now) brought his mom to the funeral. I still have this picture in my head of my mom and Josepha running like little children to go get a shovel to scoop up the stuff the horse left that was pulling the milk wagon. It made your stuff in the garden grow real nice so they said.

The neighbourhood is not the same anymore. Murders happen on the corners where we use to stay out real late and get the smack or belt for doing so. I couldn’t live there now but it was a lot better way back then. How do we make the world like that? Maybe we could work on that a little instead of worrying about what colour dress some actress wore to the Oscars or whether a bimmer is faster than a Mercedes?

Our values sure did get twisted didn’t they?

And you know everything was in black and white with a whole bunch of shades of grey in between. Right and wrong was pretty clear and the grey just meant that everyone was just a little different than the next person. We got along.

No comments: