Saturday, May 18, 2024
Chris Judd

Square pegs

One of the first toys that a child usually gets is a container with different shaped holes in it. From before kids can talk, they learn that you cannot put a square block in a round hole, or a triangular one in a square one. Sometimes I wonder if our politicians ever had that toy?
I consider myself very fortunate to have been raised in a part of the world where many of our friends who chose to settle in our county came from different parts of the world. Although many of them came from Ireland, Scotland or England, we have some that amazed me how they could wear those wooden shoes. We had some extremely talented friends that settled in our county who came from Prussia, and each fall host the finest Oktoberfest in the valley.
Some of my best friends’ families originated in France and that French-Canadian “joie de vivre” at a party cannot be compared to. At a retirement party for a beloved agronomist, a recently-settled Swiss dairy farmer presented the retiring agronomist with a beautiful “Swiss cow bell” that farmers in our county had never seen before. One of my very best friends’ family came from Ukraine. The finest goldsmith that ever lived in our valley was born in Uruguay and her husband was born in Germany. After looking all over the world for a place to retire, our newest resident in our town moved here from South Africa. Some of our friends moved here from Russia. When I was in school, a family escaped Hungary when Russia invaded, and that family still holds our county very close to their heart, even though many of them have moved to other parts of Canada. We have friends from many other countries who have chosen our county as their home and have taught our children, cared for us when hospitalized, cared for our teeth, and have been just great neighbours.
Some of my friends’ ancestors cared for this land for generations before the white man set foot on it. Although all those friends speak French or English, when they are very sick, distressed, or older like me, they feel most comfortable communicating in the language that they learned first as a child. This is where humanity comes in and we should do our best to get someone, family member or someone in our community that can speak their mother tongue, to be with them in times of stress. My best friend once told me, “language is like a car; a car is just a mode of transportation and language is a way of communication!” Today with higher prices, strikes, extra demands put on us at every turn, and uncertainty about many things, our stress levels have increased to a level that has caused suicide rates to rise to record levels.
Religion used to give people a sense of peace. Recently, it looks more like a reason for losing your job, being singled out, shot at, or even start a war over. I have thought that religion is much like a roadmap. Many of us have the same destination in mind, but there are many different ways to get there. Some are very direct and the fastest. Some are slower and maybe a more scenic trip. Some are over a very bumpy road. Everyone does not take the same road. We must respect and celebrate each other’s differences, rather than condemn them without open-minded and lengthy study.
Our institutions like education, health care, trade policies, and the languages that we speak have been developed through generations of trial and error into workable situations that suit the large majority, but maybe not all. Health care in the lower-north shore of Quebec may not fit the needs in Montreal and vice-versa. Maybe the English should not design the French education system and vice-versa. Why would our store owners not be allowed to select their language of work to best accommodate their clients? What happened to love your neighbour as yourself? Some of our politicians seem to think that a “cookie cutter” mentality will work for such things as health care, education, language, and world trade. They may never have played with that old plastic toy that taught you that a square peg would not fit in a round hole, no matter how hard that you hit it.
Chris Judd is a farmer in Clarendon on land that has been in his family for generations.


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