I worry sometimes that my babies are going to grow up not knowing what freedom is. It will be an idea as obscure to them as 'privacy'. Or perhaps, it will be like the small-town parade we attend each year to mark the birth of our nation. We park outside gramma's house with a barrage of cousins and wait for freedom to march by in glitter-adorned pomp and circumstance and throw us fistfuls of candy. We wave a few flags and eat chili burgers and swat mosquitos all day long and then fall asleep to the sounds of rowdy teenagers setting off firecrackers down the street. The day just passes in a happy, busy blur, like Christmas, and we thank our lucky stars we live in a place that by all appearances, runs itself.
And maybe childhood is just naturally full of such suppositions that we'll eventually grow out of as we learn about war and election campaigns and drones and executive veto. Or maybe it takes more than a history lesson to learn to be free. Really free.
So these are my Canada Day wishes. And my Independence Day wishes as well - because I consider myself an honorary American.
First off, I hope each one of my little bugs comes out of childhood with a deep sense of personal responsibility. That they don't take direction from some cold, blind bureaucracy. That they understand that everything worth having comes from being free to seek, strive, build, create, and believe. For themselves. Their way. For their own happiness. That there's no shame in enjoying the benefits of a hard day's labour. And that they can't elect someone to help and serve their fellow man on their behalf.
I hope they learn that no government employee will ever feel anything more for them than a sincere but generic compassion, but that family is bound to them by the deepest and truest human ties, forever.
I hope they aren't fooled into taking the easy path. That they understand a hand-out is just a band aid. That they can't travel far on a quick fix. That education is not a national standard, but a personal mission. That communities thrive on individuals. That their bills are theirs to pay. That a government that owes them, owns them. And that choices always come with consequences.
I hope that they won't have to rely on a media campaign to tell them to do the right thing, because they will already be telling themselves, and they'll be ready and able to decide for themselves what the right thing is. That they will never accept the unknown or the untested just because its given away for free. That they will trust themselves far more than they trust any federal court or committee.
I hope they won't be swayed by charisma and catchy slogans, but always seek truth. That they'll know that tolerance means merely to tolerate. That equality is opportunity, not outcome. And that they will never take offense, because what someone else thinks of them will never be as important as what they think of themselves.
I hope that they will grow up and realize that there is so much more they can get from life through their own intelligence and ingenuity than the cheap, road-rashed candy tossed at them by the passing parade and collected in their recycled plastic grocery bags. Freedom isn't a reward doled out by a benevolent leader, it's a way of life that is ours by birthright, not as Canadians, but as human beings. No one can give it. No king or country. They can only take it away.
I pray, desperately, that my little ones will know what freedom is. For real. And that they'll never let it go.
At least not without a fight.
(so, family...we might all have to move to Texas)