I listened to the Prime Minister of Canada, Jean Chrétien, as he delivered his lame speech to the UN, declaring yet again how world poverty is the “root cause” of terrorism.
If this statement was issued by the Head of State of a “Third World” country, it would be understandable, since any excuse for their shortcomings is desirable. But Chrétien? Has he ever heard the time honored expression: Poor But Proud?
My parents were born in Canada, from immigrant Russian parents. Both sets of my grandparents had large families in the Eastern Jewish European tradition. My father was part of 9 siblings. My mother was one of 8. Given the size of the families, and the costs to maintain them. This didn’t leave much for a social or scholastic life.
In 1940, my dad VOLUNTEERED to don a Canadian uniform, learned how to march, and how to fire an Enfield 303 caliber rifle. And off to fight the Nazis he went. My mother joined the Canadian military, and did her duty as a sergeant on the home-front.
And after the war, my dad came home a highly decorated soldier with no skills other than fighting. No education to speak of. And no aptitude for anything that he was aware. Nonetheless, he and my mother met, married, and went about starting a family. And instead of having 8 or 9 children, they knew enough to stop at 3.
As children growing up in a house where poverty reigned, but not supreme, we were raised with what seems to be considered by today’s standards, an unbelievable dose of morality and ethics. When my older sister and I were infants, we were dirt poor, and lived in a Montreal slum near the Main. From there, we moved to Plage Laval, a poor man’s rural summer vacation area just north of Montreal, where we lived in an un-winterized summer cottage that was heated with a single oil stove, that also served as our cooking stove. To bathe the children in the winter, my mother would collect fresh snow, and melt it on the oil stove in a large tub that became our bath.
We were poor until I was about ten years old, and after that, we became part of the lower middle class. I clearly remember the car rides we cherished, to places like Westmount, especially around Christmas when we could see the magnificent homes all aglow with their ornamental lights. I couldn’t wait to go to Eaton’s and ride the Christmas train, and then sit on Santa’s knee to tell him what I wanted, even though I was Jewish and knew that Christmas wasn’t our holiday; but nonetheless, that didn’t stop me from dreaming. And then I would leave the department store with my treasure; a free little bag from Eaton’s with a cheap toy in it.
Even though we didn’t have the literal pot to piss in, we always felt protected. The house was always warm and inviting. The fridge content was sparse, but what we had, seemed to be more than enough. Including enough to share with others. We never felt that our lack of anything was the fault of others. It was just the way it was.
My parents taught us that education was of paramount importance. That respect, morality and ethics were not an obscure concept. That hard work might give us what we wanted in life. And that honesty and respect for the laws of the land are without option. And when we toured the wealthy parts of Montreal, especially around Christmas to see the beautiful homes and mansions, we were NOT taught envy and anger. Instead, we were shown a level of living we should aspire to reach.
Fast forward 52 years. I now live on a beautiful little horse farm with my magnificent wife of almost 30 years. We share our love for animals, the outdoors and nature. We read voraciously to stay current on what is happening. We get involved in helping others. And we stand up for what is right. And battle what is not. Together, we run a successful advertising agency which I started in 1979 with nothing more than a hope and a prayer; which also employs quite a few people, directly and indirectly, and contributes to our society in more ways than one.
I have two sisters. And they also live good lifestyles. They, along with their respective husbands own and operate businesses which take virtually all of their time. And, like Anne and myself, they too employ quite a few people and make daily contributions to our society at all levels.
My sisters and are I not alone. We are just a few of tens, or hundreds of millions within North America who were raised in literally the same manner.
This is all to say that Canada’s Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien, is an idiot of the highest order for his belief that poverty breeds terror. And instead of just coming out and saying that ignorance, misogyny, religious fundamentalism, racism, cultural intolerance and hatred taught in the schools breeds terror; this embarrassment for a Canadian leader would have us believe that poverty breeds terror.
I am not a terrorist. Neither are my sisters, my friends, nor the millions of other Westerners who were raised under virtually the same conditions as I was. What breeds terrorism has nothing whatsoever to do with poverty. The savages who highjacked the planes on 9/11 were not poor. But they were terrorists.
If Jean Chrétien, and all the others like him, who hold that perverted mind-set, really want to make a difference, it’s easy: stop making excuses for people who murder, rape and destroy. Stop propping them up with our money that goes into their “cultural” sink-hole. And stop intellectualizing the “root cause”.
Instead of sending money to corrupt regimes, send troops armed with weapons and Western style education and our concept of democracy. That’s right. OUR concept of democracy. Teach them that they don’t have to be breeding machines, and that equality includes all people: ESPECIALLY WOMEN. And let them understand that under the stars, there is more than enough room for all religious beliefs and cultural customs which harm no one.
And until then, let this Idiot Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien, stop embarrassing Canada.