Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Citizenship and parties

A woman I know is going to be getting her Canadian citizenship tomorrow. This strikes me as fairly special, kind of an occasion. Then I wonder if this is a case of rampant patriotism. I have just a little bit of a problem with nationalism. Really, an issue. All those folks you may know who have problems with religion because so many people have died in it's name? Do the math. Nationalism leaves it sucking dust and fumes in the distance.

None the less, I am feeling compelled to make a bit of a big deal out of this, though I haven't puzzled out exactly how I feel. Is this even grounds for a celebration? It seems that way to me, one of those major life altering moments, but is everyone happy? It must feel a little mixed in some way. It is a committing step away from an individual's home country. Some people of course would retain dual citizenship, so this would merely be a bit of paper that opened doors to new possibilities. For others it may well signify safety and relief from a dangerous and treacherous situation. Some others may derive great pride from it.

I was in the dollar store buying a couple of Canadian flags to celebrate the event, when I got talking to the guy behind the counter. As an aside, I used to think that people always talked to me, but I realised when I stopped and watched myself that my mama didn't bring me up right and I talk to strangers ALL THE TIME. I do find out some fascinating things though.

The man behind the counter and I got talking, as I noted above, and I mentioned that I was buying this pair of made in China - now there's another blog post - Canada flags and that they were for a friend that was getting her citizenship tomorrow. He said to me that he was going to bring one of those flags when he went, so then we got talking....I asked if he had taken the test yet. You have to here, and most adult Canadians would flunk it miserably, name the provinces and capital cities, and questions about the political system topped off by questions about Canadian history. He had. The conversation went on and I said that she has to go alone tomorrow, everyone has to go to work and she doesn't have much family here. Kind of a shame, but he assured me that he had gone alone, we then had a little discussion around verb tenses while we sorted out if he had gone or was going to go...he had, but he reassured me that there is an MP there and they have a little food and give out little flags, so there is a bit of an event. I hope someone takes her picture.

When my husband got his Spanish citizenship returned after, well, lets just say a lot of years, there was no ceremony at all, they sent it in the mail.

Ho hum.

Though I am not sure how he felt about it, I mostly felt relief after three years of bureaucracy and at least one very expensive flight from the Bahamas to sign a piece of paper. Plus it meant that we could go to Spain.

By the same token we didn't get up off our fannies and do anything about it either. Maybe that is why I feel a little ambivalent about celebrating my friends new citizenship...maybe it isn't that big a deal and I am being a flag waving kook who is getting it way out of proportion. Then again, maybe it is a big deal, and she would love to have this life milestone celebrated. A welcome party so to speak.

Hold on, I think that is why I want to have the party, sort of a house warming kind of thing...a welcome to the club party. Uh oh, I am not sure I like that club thing though; if someones in, there's always someone left out.

Lets just call it a make you feel welcome and valued party. Yup, I think that's why I want to celebrate.


What do you think?


Helen said...

Patriotism and nationalism are very different things and there is an excellent essay by George Orwell all about this. He says that it is good to be proud of the good things about your country, to be patriotic, but when this degenerated into nationalism and saying that my country is good therefore yours is bad it leads to strife and war. I think he is right, so wave your flag with pride.

oreneta said...

Helen: I agree at some level, although I am not sure that you can have patriotism without nationalism at some level...

I did order the cake, hopefully they'll get the flag on it. If not we'll stick with red and white...