Wednesday, September 3, 2014 |
Never before has the world experienced greater movement of peoples between countries and continents. These seismic shifts in populations have created immense challenges for all societies. They also offer new possibilities for different social models. Can belonging encompass differences, dependence, and dislikes, while upholding fundamental human rights? What's the significance of the Canadian model, which emphasizes values, immigration, parliamentary democracy and the rule of law?
These timely and controversial subjects are at the heart of former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson's 2014 CBC Massey Lectures, Belonging: The Paradox of Citizenship. Clarkson masterfully chronicles the evolution of citizenship throughout the ages from Aristotle and the Greeks to the present day. In her provocative essays, she explains why we can be both part of Canada as a country, and part of every other person who shares our land, our values and our history.
It is society that makes it possible for us to develop ourselves as human beings. Personal relationships enrich us, work makes us feel useful, and goals give us purpose. We are part of a group, as we are all born biologically from a union. And it is as part of a group that we yearn to belong. If we concern ourselves with the idea that we exist because others exist, that we are in a web of human relationships, then we understand our individualism in a different way from that of the solipsist. Individuals are not independent of each other. We have individual rights, but we also have duties to others. But if we assume that relationships are on a costbenefit ratio, they would therefore be impermanent and fluid by definition.
From Belonging: The Paradox of Citizenship by Adrienne Clarkson ©2014. Published by House of Anansi Press.