After being with Coach’s Corner for 32 years Don Cherry was fired this week, and that makes me scared to be Canadian. Whatever your stance is on his comments, I want to look below the surface to see the real problems this situation represents especially to this country’s rising anxiety problems. First off, I think it’s important to recognize that Sportsnet and sponsors betrayed a Canadian icon. If they didn’t like Cherry’s brash nature and/or if they thought it was time for him to step down (he was 85), last year (or this year) they could’ve announced he was retiring and then given him a proper ceremony of appreciation celebrating his many years of service and dedication. Instead, Canadians proved that it doesn’t matter who you are, you’re really a nobody who can be discarded at the power-that-be’s convenience. How is that not a terrifying message? After 32 years of work, you’re still nothing in the grand scheme of things. How can anyone not be a little concerned that they’ll one day make a mistake that will cost them their job when someone so public can’t be shown respect? It’s like Canada has lost our sense of loyalty.
I think it should be noted that at 85 years old it is remarkable that Cherry maintained his regular schedule. He should be an inspiration to us like William Shatner, Betty White, and Dick Van Dyke who continue working into their late 80s and early 90s. All of these celebrities prove that working can help us live longer as it keeps our minds and bodies moving while giving us purpose unlike many people who retire and then shrivel up and die alone watching TV.
Now here’s where I get really scared: Cherry made one comment that upset people to the point he was fired. I’m sure there was more behind the scenes, but this was the company’s public reason, which is disgusting. He was paid to speak his mind and then he was essentially fired for it. Considering he’s never been known for being politically correct (something that used to add to his appeal), was it really a far stretch from other comments he’s had over the years? If he gave this speech ten years ago, would it have bothered people? As one interviewer noted, if it was such a problem, why did CBC re-air it three hours later?
Another thing that bothers me is when did it become wrong to have an opinion that was different? Being challenged is how we grow. My faith as a Christian wouldn’t be nearly as strong if people hadn’t questioned and disagreed with me because that encouraged me to research and reflect on my own ideas.
When did it become too difficult to hear something we don’t like and simply think I disagree and move on? We don’t have a right to control other people. Why does one’s person’s comment have to affect others so much? Instead, this event demonstrates how Canadian culture’s once passive nature has turned passive aggressive. This smile to your face and then stab you in the back behavior is terrifying because it means we can’t trust each other anymore. If saying the wrong thing can get you fired or end up destroying your reputation, how can we be honest and vulnerable with people and not be afraid of it being used against us? We already have a culture with more anxiety problems than we’ve ever had and now we’ve just amplified it. If someone is naturally shy or very conflict averse (which a lot of people are), how can this new underlying fear that what you say can and will be held against you not make it all the worse?
Who is even in charge of determining what’s the right or wrong thing to say? It’s like there’s some underground moral police squad who determine what’s acceptable in our society. Who are these people? More importantly, what’s acceptable? Because I have no idea. I don’t think anyone does.
I’ve heard young people say how they’re confused and scared because they don’t know what’s acceptable and when they ask me for guidance I say, “I’m just as lost.” At one end you have music and movies like Deadpool using extremely graphic language, sex, and violence along with Trump who gets to say anything he wants and then you have this extreme other end saying you can’t do or say anything that even remotely hints at being offensive. It’s such an extreme difference, how can anyone know what’s acceptable?
In some cultures the dominant religion creates the moral fibre. Even if you don’t agree with the religion, at least you know what the moral standards are. In the movie I recently watched, The Best of Enemies, this based on true events story takes place in a time and city where the KKK ruled. As terrible as they were (and they were terrible), at least you knew who the moral police were and what their rules were, so you could fight against them. In Canada the religion of the day is a mix of materialism and agnosticism. (An agnostic is someone who believes there’s a God or power in the universe, but doesn’t care enough to learn about Him let alone worship Him.) This means we have no foundation for what’s right and wrong. This means in Canada there’s this hidden, social media, bullying world who seem to rule everything. It’s like as long as you backstab someone first it’s acceptable and you get your way. Being honest to someone directly is somehow cruel when it should be the reverse. If you’re mad at me, at least if you’re mad to my face I have the opportunity to stand up for myself in a fair conflict. Social media attacks are, in fact, the meanest of all ways of handling a confrontation, and yet the invisible moral police seem to encourage it because everything needs to look good on the surface. Integrity and behind the curtain mean nothing as long as what’s seen is “good.”
A lot of Canadians think aggressive behaviour is scary, but if you were given the choice of someone punching you in the face (aggressive) or being nice to you and then behind your back destroying your reputation (passive aggressive), what would you rather? We as the Canadian culture have traditionally been scared of aggressive behavior, but we’ve created this backstabbing, cyber bullying world where it’s impossible to trust anyone because we can never really know what other people are thinking.
I follow Christian morals, but this undercover moral police with their hidden rules terrify me as they go beyond anything I would think to follow, and they don’t follow the rule of love. They follow the rule of “they rule.” It’s like all of their rules make them somehow superior, but the rules are based on their own made up agenda, yet they feel it’s fair to destroy lives and reputations of others who don’t agree with them. This type of world is incredibly dangerous and puts us on a slippery slope to a world that’s controlled by a few while the rest of us live in fear and without the freedom to live as we chose.
This week may you realize broken people judge and backstab people while healthy people are loving and gentle in their correction and guidance.
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people (like me)