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The Deification of Choice in B.C. Canadian Culture

What is it that B.Cers really want most in life?  According to the results of Project Can85, 95% of B.Cers say that freedom is very important.  Other top values are happiness (93%), family life (88%), being loved (85%), friendship (85%), comfortable life (63%), and success (56%).  Dr. Reginald Bibby, the well-known Canadian sociologist and author, recently wrote a very challenging book about the poverty and potential of life in Canada, entitled Mosaic Madness (Stoddart, 1990).  Bibby suggests that "our current emphasis on choice in Canada has blurred the distinction between toleration and advocation.  Our major institutions - the media, the school, government, and even religion - have been saying less and less about better and best possibilities.  Young Canadians especially have been among the losers."

Bibby challenges us to re-examine whether or not we as Canadians still have enough common values to "glue us together" as a nation. In Canada, says Bibby, the time has come to address a centrally important question, both as a country and as individuals relating to each other in various spheres of life:  if what we have in common is our diversity, do we really have anything in common at all?   Bibby believes that "...excessive individualism and relativism may well be two of the most serious threats to social life in Canada."   According to Education specialists Robert Patterson and Nick Kach, "...television, especially, has become the purveyor of values, beliefs and knowledge."  20% of our waking hours as Canadians is currently devoted to sitting in front of the TV set.  And since Canadians give 60% of their TV viewing time to U.S. programs, we are more and more affected by the tremendous American emphasis on both individualism and relativism.  Bibby argues that "such an imbalance in favour of the individual is putting a serious strain on relationships of all kinds.  Friendships, marriages, family life, work ties, and local, national, & global citizenship are among the potential casualties."

Is there anything left that we as Canadians still commonly believe in, in our relativistic and pluralistic culture?  Is everything really just a matter of subjective preferences and personal opinion?  Bibby comments that "Relativism has slain moral consensus.  It has stripped us of our ethical and moral guidelines, leaving us with no authoritative instruments with which to measure social life...we (have) triumphantly discarded the idea that there are better and best choices in favour of worshipping choice as an end in itself."  If there is anything that tends to be deified in our contemporary Canadian culture, it is Choice.

Why is it that Choice seems to be one of the last unshakable absolutes in our morally ambiguous culture?  Click to find out more...


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St. Simon's Anglican Church 
North Vancouver, B.C.