Grrr Millennials aren’t as patriotic as the older folks!
Now before you folks out there throw your cups at the computer monitor, I am writing this as a short examination into the issue surrounding patriotism and young folks – this will be a Canada-specific case study so to speak, so please try to keep that in mind as other nations vary in terms of percentage of patriotic to non-patriotic citizenry.
Earlier today I saw a short report from CBC concerning the young generation (in their 20s to early 30s) and their apparent lack of patriotism. While it was alarming at first, after doing some examination and thinking I have come up with these conclusions:
- 48% responded to the poll as being patriotic – that is not an insubstantial number. 48% of 35.16 million Canadians comes out to be 16.87 million – again not an insubstantial number of Canadians.
- Automatic loyalty is absurd; either the government of the day is not popular, or the populace feels their government has wronged them in some way, shape, or form. Assuming people MUST be loyal is about as misguided as assuming an untrained pack of wild dogs to love humans without ever encountering them in the wilderness.
- I see what you did there CBC; sneaking in a workplace shaming bit about a lack of loyalty to company. Companies outsource, overwork, and underpay their employees – they deserve nothing from the employee, and loyalty must be earned and maintained. Talk about entitlement, aye?
Now I will focus in on the key point of nationalism and the loyalty to one’s country. These days young people can feel alienated by the job market, by society (which shames them for not taking low wage work for long hours and no benefits), and sometimes by their own families who throw them out and leave them destitute. Therefore it can be estimated that those loyal to the country are outnumbered by those disillusioned with the idea that Canada is something they should be loyal towards. A comment from one of the viewers of the video points to this exact bit; young people who lack the connection to Canada feel alienated by the job market (which gives them little opportunities), and feel abandoned by an impersonal government which cares little for the suffering of its citizens. Loyalty must come from two fronts; the citizen and the state.
The state must inspire loyalty among its citizens via methods such as promotion of their military, to shared values, to a shared identity. Presently the citizens of Canada only share two simple items (and even then it varies): hockey and beer. The monarchy (a symbol of Canada’s government) fails to capture the younger generation who feel less attached to this institution as opposed to older members of society, and the government of Canada fails to promote its system of governance to further reinforce its position – they have sat idle while the US and their ever-so-vocal media has creeped into the Canadian domain and planted their ideals which (can be assumed for the purposes of this article) have replaced our own.
Next we look at the military; enrollment among young folks is not as high as back during the world wars, and why would it be at those numbers? Canada hasn’t seen any major engagements since Korea, and even Afghanistan was a limited engagement at best – most of the younger generation weren’t even of age to enlist when the war was going on, and now that the conflict has ended (for us at least) our government has cut funding to the military (both Conservative and Liberal) and left it dangling in the wind. This, of course, has been a historical practice of the government of Canada – looking as far back as during the founding years (1867 and onwards) our military was widely neglected over other government projects at the time. Only when war broke out (and after a year or so of fighting in the first world war) did our government relent and place an emphasis on military spending. Fast-forward to today, and we see the same script played out in our parliament (after the war (both first and second world wars) the government of Canada cut the military budget and shrunk the armed forces to it’s small pre-war size (or near its pre-war size)).
Soldiers in the Canadian Forces regular force receive all the benefits, while part-time reservists get 11.90 per hour (90 dollars per day approximately), and have no dental or medical benefits; why do you think enlistment is down? Coupled with a very inept recruitment system where it takes over a year just to get in for 11.90 an hour (most enlistment goes for the Reserves as regular force is becoming less and less enticing thanks to shrinking opportunities) and you have disillusioned potential recruits who feel that they shouldn’t bother anymore with a system that drags its heels in the dirt.
Militarism is non-existent in Canada; the people of this nation only think of their army, navy, and air force as an afterthought – they clap their hands when soldiers show up to ball games, but apart from that they just do not care about the state of our armed forces. Historically enlistment in the armed forces has been a cornerstone for patriotism; many nations view their armed forces with respect and admiration – seeing sacrifice and teamwork as virtues worth upholding. Yet here in Canada we encourage full individualism, and the military being a collective body of men and women stands contrary to that belief.
Being a soldier isn’t easy, but even then the government could establish militias in each province as a means for young people to express their patriotic values in a meaningful manner (and learn teamwork skills, marksmanship, responsible firearms handling, first aid, land navigation, survival skills and so on). Sadly due to budgetary restraints (and an unwilling parliament) this problem is likely to go on unresolved.
Automatic loyalty is a hallmark of a totalitarian society – in the US the idea of national pride stems from what the country has given (and therefore what the citizen owes) rather than what the citizen owes their nation. Sure it can be viewed as the other way around, but when you look at the reasons why people join the US armed forces or participate in national guard or state militia activities you hear the same reason: “I want to serve my country; I want to give back,” I want to give back. Canada has little push, little motivation for her citizens to give back when they feel they either belong someplace else, or already have loyalties to outside entities (example people who arrive to Canada, gain citizenship, but at the first sign of trouble they pull out their dual-citizenship and hop on a plane to escape). When you take away the abstract militarism that does exist among a small percentage of the population, you are left with nothing that ties people to this nation. Natural beauty? Russia, Norway, US, Australia, New Zealand, and so on all have natural beauties – just look at their tourism sites. Friendliness? Don’t tick off the locals in Dubai and they will be as friendly as you can reasonably expect. Peacefulness? Iceland has no army; better luck next time hanz (I wanted to say that – just let me say hanz rather than: “pal,” or “bud”).
Long story short, Canada still has a percentage of loyal citizens, but to expect automatic loyalty based on birth is absurd. Loyalty is a two-way street, and only back in the early 1900s could a country get away with disenfranchising their citizens (ie: Aboriginals, Blacks, Chinese-Canadians, and so on) and still see their willing participation in the armed forces. Today people have options, and social values have changed (for the better I might add) – if a nation treats you like garbage, you move – just look at South Africa, India, China, and so on. Even citizens in Europe who dislike Europe’s politics move to North America and begin new lives there – being tied to one’s nation is not a reality in this day and age (for some). Yet there is something to be said about loyalty; Canada is home, and like one’s own family, are you not obligated to fight for it when the time comes – are you going to stand idle while foreign nations pillage her and leave the nation to its’ fate?