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Happy Holiday, eh?

Today is the 4th of July–a day that most people in America choose to display their patriotism.

On a day like this, I love being American. In fact, if it isn’t raining, you’ll find me at the family cottage in Wisconsin building a float for the upcoming 4th of July parade on our lake; an act that has become somewhat of a family tradition. When the day is over, I will feel tired and happy.

I don’t however feel as patriotic as I used to, and I’m not sure I can describe what “feeling patriotic” really means today.

Maybe I’ve been in Canada so long that it is rubbing off on me.

My favourite author is Bill Bryson. I like him because he has a keen gift of observation, especially about places he’s lived, and America. Today, I’m going to try to emulate him by writing about the comparison using patriotism as the divider.

In my lifetime, I have met few Canadian who come across as patriotic as most Americans I know.

Sure, there is a strong left and right in America these days, but on a day like the 4th of July, despite the drunkenness and pyrotechnics, both of which should never be present at a party with mixed social views, it is all baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet in a sea of red, white and blue.

Not so true in Canada. There’s maple syrup, hockey, donuts and that beaver but Canadians just don’t unite around them in the same way as Americans do about their icons. The best icons I can think of for Canada Day are a Muskoka chair, a dog and a lake.

I have thought a lot about this over the years. What causes patriotic malaise?

Canadians aren’t boring. They aren’t without backbone. They just don’t hang banners on their porches and tie ribbons on their trees. They don’t make special blue Jell-O dishes with red star cut-outs, or spend weeks building floats for a Canada Day parade. And, they don’t spend their savings on fireworks or buy special holiday outfits for their pets.

It is a cultural thing. Maybe somewhere in history the Gods of advertising decided not to promote red and white, and there just aren’t enough unifying symbols. Or maybe the Gods of politeness prevented loud cheering in public places, but the mood is different. It is sad, and yet it isn’t.

On this holiday week, I want you to think about how patriotism impacts workplace culture.

  • Is a patriotic workforce more successful than one that isn’t all that patriotic?
  • What does patriotism do for team building?
  • What does patriotism do for morale?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against patriotism. I’m the first one to pack up the car and head to the U.S. for the 4th. I just have to wonder why Americans go so nuts over the 4th while Canadians recognize their holiday with so little fanfare.

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