As Scotland determines its future on its referendum today, I recall, as a child, watching the Adventures of Robin Hood, how Errol Flynn in the title character talked about the fight between the Normans and Saxons that was threatening to divide England. I didn’t realize at the time that such divisions within countries existed that far back in history. To me, countries were defined by political or cultural groups (even if I didn’t know to call them that way back then) and subdivisions were irrelevant to the bigger picture that the national image represented. After all, to a young school kid, even the provinces and states that existed in Canada and the US were apparently subservient to the federal government.
The hoopla surrounding the American 1976 bicentennial made me realize how relatively young Canada and the US was, especially compared to Japan which is my heritage (I call myself mostly Canadian culturally since I was born and raised here). Japan’s ethnic core and small geography, like the European countries, also contrasted to the multi-racial make-up and huge size of Canada and the US which impressed upon me that the modern state was built on principles, rather than ethnicity. Between that and all the talk of progress in one form or another during my school years left a lasting impression about the importance of direction in our lives, at least in terms of the ideas by which we were shaping the world we live in.
Of course, a lot has happened since then. Like Scotland, Quebec sought independence from Canada in two referendums in 1980 and 1995. There were also big changes to the global political map, especially following the break up of the Soviet Union into numerous independent states defined by various historic, ethnic, and/or cultural factors that countered my thinking, but given all the talk of the Cold War I grew up with, this, like the Quebec referendum failures, was a relief.
What is more challenging over the years has been the rising focus on the individual that, in some ways, truly ran counter to my directional ideas. Berke Breathed’s Bloom County strip below from the eighties captured that feeling perfectly. Rather than seeking a more productive cooperation, there has often been a narrowing of interests that has been increasingly divisive.
This is why the 4D Framework I created depicts an inclusive and positive view of public interest. Using radiating circles outward from a centre to represent growing domains is nothing new, but, for the model that is this blog’s core, it does embody the belief I have for a progressively expansive rather than regressing view of the world. Individualism does have an important role and I have much more to say about that in later posts, but it is when it becomes rampant that it does more harm than good for the public interest. Understanding and maintaining a positive direction is vital towards developing a consensual public interest that is mutually and optimally beneficial.
Maybe that’s just the child in me talking. After all, Canada the country and its provinces are younger bigger geographically than the US and its states, so by my earlier logic and Sir Wilfred Laurier’s famous “the 20th century will be the century of Canada” quote, I’ve always had optimism for this nation. I’ll have much more to say on that later as well.