Dear Hurting America: A Letter from a Canadian on Independence Day


Dear America,

Today is Independence Day—perhaps a bittersweet event for you this year. Especially recently, you’ve had some serious dysfunctions rise to the surface, and I wonder if it feels inauthentic to celebrate in the midst of the brokenness.

I don’t want to be the neighbour who points out the garbage on your lawn without cleaning up the mess on mine. Because let’s be honest, Canada doesn’t have it all together, either.

But for now, as a concerned neighbour, let’s talk.

My heart breaks over what’s going on over there right now.
Vulnerable, immigrant children being torn from their parents is not okay.
Violence and mass shootings are not okay.
Racist travel bans—not okay.
A president who inspires brothel owners to run for political office—not okay.
Increasing intolerance of LGBTQ+ people during the current presidential administration—not okay.
Being relegated to the tenth most dangerous country for women for sexual violence—not okay.

I’ll be honest: I’m disappointed. And frustrated and confused and disillusioned and a million other things. There is some serious repair and reconciliation that needs to start happening. There are some destructive, deep-seated values that need to shift. There are some unjust systems that need to be deconstructed.

And yet, I know that the darkness you're experiencing is not the whole story.

In the midst of the brokenness, I have hope because of the Americans in my life. I know many Americans who stand for peace, compassion, empathy, tolerance, and love. I know a lot of Americans who have devoted their lives to seeking justice and serving their communities.

Some of my favourite people are American.
Some of my closest family members are American.
Some of the places nearest to my heart are in America.
Some of my most treasured memories are in America.

At the same time that there is darkness and despair, there is hope and beauty, too.
I believe that for every story of homophobia that headlines your news, there is an act of love that is at least equally proportionate.
For every racist Tweet that goes viral, there is someone who quietly shows tolerance.
For every #MeToo experience, there is a moment of respect. 
For every person who speaks narrow-mindedly, there is a person expanding their willingness to understand.

As you unlearn what needs to be unlearned and rebuild what needs to be rebuilt, I hope you also cherish and amplify what’s good, what’s beautiful, what’s true. Because there's plenty of both.


PS We may not be perfect on this side of the border, either, but we do have poutine. Come visit sometime. We have lots more to talk about.