Monday, May 30, 2011
Where does your loyalty lie?
It’s the Winter Olympics 2014 and we’re sitting down to watch the Gold Medal hockey final. All of Israel is talking about the unbelievable meteoric rise of Team Israel from total anonymity to becoming a leading contender in the hockey world. Years of dodging Katyushas on the only Olympic-size ice rink in Israel alongside the Lebanese border, mixed in with hockey skirmishes on roller blades during the summer months, have finally paid off. It all comes down now to the battle of the stars: Team Canada’s Sidney Crosby against Team Israel’s Gabby Cohen (AKA “The Rocket Cohen”).
Too far-fetched? Perhaps. I really don’t expect to have to choose any time soon between the hockey tradition which has shaped the core of my being and the little David who has traded in his slingshot for skates and a hockey stick.
But what if I had to? Where would my loyalty lie? How can an Expat remain loyal to countries old and new? The closest I have come to having to choose was when Celine Dion represented Switzerland in the Eurovision Song Contest. It wasn’t even Canada competing, but she was Canadian, nonetheless. And Israelis take their Eurovision seriously, much too seriously in fact. But I was let off easily when it became apparent that Israel had no chance of winning (Israel finished in 7th place that year). So I was allowed to root for Celine in the nail biting finish.
I don’t know how Canadian expats living in the States manage, though. The States and Canada are up against each other all the time, and sometimes it can get quite ugly. And apparently about 80% of Canadian expats live in the States. I can see it now. Canadian expats tucking their folded Canadian flags into their pants and drinking their Molson Canadian beer out of brown paper bags, while watching the U.S.A. and Canada square off in the 2010 Winter Olympics hockey final. That is nothing, though, compared to the NHL hockey players with dual American and Canadian citizenship who have to decide which team to play for in the Olympics. There was one notable case where one brother went to play for Team USA and the other brother went to play for Team Canada.
Loyalty is a difficult fish to fry. Look at what happens after you get married. Suddenly holiday celebrations become a balancing act between blood relations and in-laws.
In most cases, such questions of loyalty are not a matter of life and death, unless both countries decide to go to war with each other. Then loyalty to the enemy country is quite frowned upon and you may find yourself jailed as a spy or enemy sympathizer. But I see no sign of Israel and Canada going to war soon and I think Americans have given up on seeking revenge for the War of 1812 - although I may be mistaken. But I can’t speak for the rest of you spread out through the world.
Maybe we shouldn’t worry about loyalty. Does anything really deserve our blind support? Why not be selective in our choices and go with what feels right. Whether it be Molson Canadian or a Budweiser, Creemore or Goldstar, an American dropping “r’s” or a Canadian with dangling “eh’s”, English, Hebrew, trees or sand... let’s just celebrate who we are - even if one night we are cheering on The Rocket Cohen and the next night Sid the Kid Crosby.