Wednesday, November 23, 2011


c2011 (S)

When I was growing up, it seemed Northern Ireland and the Middle East were never out of the headlines. Northern Ireland is a different place today. The Middle East still festers.

Once a week it seemed, another airliner was hijacked by terrorists, there was another bloody attack by the Red Brigade or the Baader-Meinhoff Gang, or Carlos 'The Jackal' had carried out another atrocity somewhere in the world.

In Canada, here in Southern Ontario, we probably felt pretty much immune to such dangers, although the thoughts of air travel for business or pleasure might have brought a few sweaty palms. Yet we reassured ourselves that everything would be fine and it usually was.

Going to school, we knew what prejudice was. It's in all the dictionaries.

I went to a Roman Catholic school, and right across the street was a 'public' school.

When the province extended full funding to Catholic high schools, there was a debate about whether it was appropriate for taxpayers to fund religious education. I won't go into the whole siege, capture and surrender of French Canada by the British.

There were and still are other sides to the story, some of them quite vehement, and some of them even relevant.

However, at that time, by treaty, full religious rights were extended to the 'habitants,' and French Roman Catholic schools were already in existence. Not fully funding those schools could have been construed as withholding something very valuable from a minority, that is to say if a high school education has value. Most people think it does. It is a requirement for university, where tomorrow's political and social leaders are often trained. There are economic considerations as well. It really doesn't pay to enforce a kind of low productivity among a major segment of the population. Governments are not so much about dogma today, as they are about the economy, which is another kind of religion and dogma. (More on that some other time.)

When I was a kid, students heard the national anthem played over the PA system and, once a day we had to say our prayers. It was from the Protestant rite. They had a picture of Queen Elizabeth II on the wall, the titular head of the Church of England. They probably still do, and for pretty much the same reasons. I know that because I also went to a public school for several years, where I was perfectly welcome to attend. They didn't try to keep me out--they wanted me in there.

You can take bigotry out of a system of government, but it takes some very sensible and hard-working people to make it all work. This is not to say that there was never any bigotry in this country, because there was. On the plus side, we have dealt with it fairly well, and continue to do so.

Thank you for your efforts. And, keep up the good work.

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