This morning after the US election, reaffirms for me the reason I immigrated to Canada back in 1973. Coming of age in the US during the strife and conflict of the 1960’s and 70’s, gave me a shocking glimpse of the country I grew up in. LBJ, and later Nixon, were both gung-ho about the US involvement in the civil war in Vietnam. Plenty of information was available at the time about the lies the government told to get into, and bolster support for that war.
I questioned and sought information and it became quite clear that the whole murderous disaster, that was killing tens of thousands of Americans and millions of Southeast Asians, was built on falsehoods. What really confused me was that the average American either couldn’t see those facts, or ignored them, and supported and believed what was being said by the government. I did what I could, volunteering as a draft councilor to give information to young men who wanted to know what rights they had concerning the military draft, and I went to local and national anti-war demonstrations in an effort to influence the government to stop the slaughter in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.
In 1968, I worked for Eugene McCarthy, a peace candidate, but he got nowhere, then Robert Kennedy, another peace candidate was assassinated. Instead the country, full of fear that a there would be Communists landing on our shores if we didn’t stop them in Vietnam, elected Richard Nixon, another war monger. The war was intensified, more young Americans were shipped off to die in the jungles. The weekly report of the number of Americans and Vietnamese killed, increased. The bulk of the American public with their flags waving, believed the lies and contributed to the whipped up hatred toward those who spoke against the useless war.
Finally in 1972, again I began to hope that the war might be ended. George McGovern, another peace candidate actually became the Democratic presidential candidate, but the Republicans, wrapped themselves with the flag, pumped up the fear and called for “Law and Order.” Again a large majority of Americans ignored all of the factual information that was available and gave Nixon one of the largest landslide victories in US history.
It was then that it became obvious to me that the voters in the US were so full of fear and so easily bamboozled, that I no longer trusted them to make rational decisions about the future of the country in which I lived. I began to seriously look for a more compassionate and reasonable country to live in. Canada fit the bill, and they spoke English, so Joan and I filled out the Canadian immigration forms, I took a job teaching in a one room school in the middle of the Canadian wilderness, and we became proud Canadian citizens.
It was so refreshing to live in a country with socialized medicine, a country where its military was used not for war, but as UN Peace Keepers, and a country that valued the same things I did--compassion, open mindedness, progressive politics, and respect for all of its citizens. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of problems and shortcomings in Canada, but I have so much more trust and faith in its people, than I ever did all those conservative Americans.
Looking back, I see I have made a couple of really good choices in my life. One is marrying Joan, and the other is moving to Canada.
My sincere condolences go out to all those insightful and compassionate people in the US, who find themselves feeling trapped and bewildered this morning.