In the US, especially for the last four years, the Stars and Stripes flies everywhere. I hated it.
In Canada, the Maple Leaf flies everywhere. I like it.
This is so different for me. I've been rejecting the US flag one way or another for most of my adult life - refusing to stand for the national anthem, turning flag postage stamps upside down, any little symbolic act that subverts the powerful symbol.
Here, I look at the Maple Leaf, and I smile inside. At the very least, I'm neutral.
Why do the two flags evoke such different responses for me?
When I mentioned this to Allan, he said he's been thinking about the same thing. For him, he said, the bad feelings about the US flag stem from who flies it. He imagines the flag-fliers are right-wing, war-happy, love-it-or-leave-it types, the folks listening to Bill O'Reilly and boycotting France. The working-class Americans ignorant enough to think the Republicans are on their side.
It's a stereotype, of course, but it's one that bears out more often than not.
For me, it's what the flag itself means to me. A flag is a symbol. And right now, the American flag symbolizes war and empire. Greed and unchecked capitalism. Arrogance and belligerence. And rampant hypocrisy, since we're told the Stars and Stripes symbolizes freedom and democracy, and both are in such short supply.
The Maple Leaf, by contrast, seems so benign. So understated. It beckons to me: Live a good life. Live a quieter life. We don't have all the answers, we're just trying to do the best we can in an imperfect world. Join us and we'll work on it together.