Monday, 5 February 2018
So, the Canadian government just changed two words in our national anthem, you know, that song that you hum because you only know about four words, while waiting for the puck to drop at a Senators hockey game. The change is, perhaps, worthy of a shrug, if that, but if you follow the right-wing media you’d think Chicken Little was right.
A bit of history is in order.
Canada’s national anthem, O Canada, was originally written in 1880, in French, to celebrate St. Jean Baptiste Day in Quebec. English words were written some 26 years later in 1906 and another English version was created in 1908. It is this later version that forms the basis for today’s anthem, although it too has been modified several times over the intervening years.
This particular debate, a century later, centres around making the anthem more gender neutral. The 1908 version included the now rather awkward phrase “thou dost in us command”, which was subsequently revised in 1914 to read as “in all thy sons command”. In recent years this phrasing has caused some to get their knickers in a knot because it “disenfranchises 50% of the population”. Okay, I can see the point, sort of. Then again, I don’t take offense when someone refers to God as a “she” so my offense threshold might be higher than most.
But no one asked my opinion and so, after decades of debate, a change has now been made to the official version that replaces “in all thy sons command” with “in all of us command”. Which, interestingly, brings the newest version back in line with the original. But that didn’t stop the gnashing of teeth and screams of political correctness gone mad by some in the media. They are so incensed you’d think the government had cut their subsidies and eliminated their tax breaks. And the online commentariate? Let’s not go into that hate-filled swamp.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people could get so enraged over things that really matter, that will affect millions of lives? Things like climate change, access to clean water, food, wars, displaced millions. It’s a very long list which, in my opinion, has no room for faux indignation over a song that few Canadians ever sing, or even know the words to.