Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Canadian Century (a Sputnik Moment)

By Bernie Quigley for The Free Market News Network at 10/4/07

The Russians have planted their flag at the North Pole in recent days; in that singular place where the earth seems to align itself with the North Star. I seem to live not far away; in any case, as near to the North Pole as one can possibly live and still be an American. In the Border Lands in Wisconsin thereabouts, agrarian visionaries say there is nothing north of them but "a bunch of fences." I’ve been there: There are no fences. It is starting to get crowded up here in New Hampshire and last I was there, the traffic flow was even greater north from Chicago to the border line.

New Elizas are crossing that fateful psychological river and heading North to freedom; they are coming here daily to the northern edge of New Hampshire even from North Carolina and Texas and beyond. My own neighbors are looking even further north.

And for this reason only: It is getting hot up here and the culture is starting to flip from Denial to Panic. For the first time in my history I have talked this summer to tobacco farmers in North Carolina who complained about the heat. As part of the unspoken lore and tradition – that which makes us who we are – Southern people generally do not complain about the heat. Same here. We never complain about the cold. But it is not that cold anymore and last winter we didn’t have November ice till late January.

The Canadian Century is upon us and all roads lead to the thawing tundra: I’m beginning to wonder if I may yet buy real estate at the North Pole.

But the warming problem interfaces with another: In Ottawa last Christmas with family, attempting unsuccessfully to skate on the Rideau Canal because the ice was melting, an environmentalist asked if we would sign a petition to "stop global warming." Jokingly I said: "Global warming; bad for Texas, good for Canada."

In years past I have sent my daughter to the school bus through a passage in the snow well over her head at 10 degrees below zero for a month on end. Now, it is hard to feel bad when you feel good. Here in northern New Hampshire we had a bumper apple crop don't cha know. And in Greenland they are now growing wheat. And when the hockey season started last night I was still working in my yard in beautiful 80 degree weather.

Most Americans don't really understand how beautiful and vast and open Canada is and how pleasant a trip to Tim Hortons can be in the morning and how genuinely nice Canadians are: Canada is the Undiscovered Country of the North American mind. But the hordes are now looking north from Hoboken, from Tobaccoville, from Paris, Texas. And so are entrepreneurs and government agencies looking for advantage in minerals under the ice and the Northwest Passage.

We have two minds: the Buddha mind and the Doing mind. The later which dominates and finds pleasure in "positive" (meaning doing things) action; it is the enemy of Buddha Mind: It is Norman Vincent Peale; the religion of optimism; the religion of doing things to feel good. Hard to get around.

The Russians planting of the flag at the North Pole is a Sputnik moment but underwater. Its purpose is to territorialize our northern regions and turn our gaze north as surely as if it was a war dog peeing on the frozen tundra property line to warn off Canadian coyotes. (Just as the U.S. intends to territorialize [by which we mean to dominate psychologically - see Sun Tzu] Russia by planting missiles on his borders.)

It begins the drive to new action and passion in the new century. It begins a new era of growing things and creating things and killing things and thinking things up and making them on a vital and brand new, snow white and pristine Canadian canvas: It begins the Canadian Century.