Tags: Language

Is being nice a civic virtue?

If so, Canadians should be the most virtuous people on earth. But does virtue count for anything these days? I mean, aside from offering a retiree your seat on the subway, which is its own reward. Like chopping wood once, virtue warms you twice.

Let me raise my aging hand to say I believe being nice is better than being loud and even better than being right. Saying “please” and “thank you” is the lubricant for lots of life.

So I was relieved last week that a group of Worthy Canadians™ penned an open letter to our political leaders that they “address urgently the rise of incivility, public aggression and overt hatred that are undermining the peace and security of Canadian life.”

Read on…

Negotiate up, not down.

Twenty years ago we took the Hurtigruten, Norway’s storied sea-ferry service, up the Norwegian coast, docking at tiny towns where it delivered mail, passengers and freight. At most of these often isolated ports, we were greeted by a brass band playing Norway’s national anthem, sometimes a boys and girls choir, and even the mayor wearing their ribbon of office. It was a big deal for these small places.

Last week on a Lindblad Expedition, the National Geographic Orion docked in Samoa, on our way from Fiji to Tahiti. We were greeted by a band playing traditional Samoan music and a troupe of male and female dancers wearing leis and grass skirts. They performed for 20 minutes just for us.

But this time our reaction to the local citizenry greeting a visiting ship was ….mixed. Should the 59 of us onboard feel guilty for enabling an old trope between oppressor and oppressed? Or should we feel good that we’re helping Samoans promote their Indigenous culture via traditional regalia and age-old dances?

I say good.

Read on.


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