Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Pathetic Side of New Brunswick

I noticed it first when I taught in PEI. I'm dismayed to find it here in New Brunswick.

I've been writinig and broadcasting commentaries across Canada, as well as some in the US and Britain, for some thirty years. I'm now writing for a very professionally organized national blog called The New Mark News, as well as this blog. But there's a difference between all the others and this blog. This one is just for New Brunswick.  There's another difference, too. In all the other writing I've done, people who disagreed with me wrote or phoned to say they disagreed, and they said why. That's called serious discussion. It doesn't suggest good or evil or name-calling. It's called serious discussion and it's the way civilized areas develop their thinking and their responses to the world around them.

Serious thinking didn't happen in PEI when I was teaching there. People would tut-tut silently. They might report you to somebody. They might gossip. But there was no serious discussion. Ditto with NB. It acts like a province of serfs who stay trivial so they won't annoy the feudal baron or his soldiers.

I was reported to Mr. Doyle. Somebody reported me to him. I'm glad it was done. It was a pleasure to talk to him, and to exchange serious ideas as people in democracies are supposed to do. I'm sure we don't entirely agree. But we can discuss, and maybe both of us modify our opinions, or one of us change the other's mind.

Lots of people read this blog. I get a record of it - though without names, of course. For the first time in thirty years, I have not had a single person comment. The one who reported me to Mr. Doyle obviously read my column. By all means report me to whoever you like. I'm happy to have the additional readers. But it he disagreed with me - as I presume he did - why didn't he say so? Why the skulking, why the reporting, why the anonymity? Why the whispers?

It reminds of a kid when I taught grade seven. I h ad to go the  office for a moment. As I headed to the door, he followed me out to ask, "Can I take down the name of anybody who talks while you're out?

I'm not interested in preaching or trying to convert anybody. I'm interested in serious discussion, which would benefit me as well as the other person.

Obviously, though, New Brunswick is more the sort of place for the kid who wanted to take down the name of anybody who was talking.

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