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The complex emotion of guilt

Lisa Sygutek

Jun 14, 2023

We are consistently reminded through the media and the continual apologies by our Prime Minister that we are a country that should carry the yoke of remorse.

Guilt is a complex emotion that can arise from a variety of sources, including personal actions, societal norms, and cultural values. In the case of country, there are many reasons why individuals may feel guilt-ridden, ranging from historical injustices and systemic inequalities to personal failures and moral dilemmas.

One of the primary sources of guilt in a country can stem from the legacy of colonialism and slavery, which has left deep scars on both the land and its people. Many individuals feel guilty for the actions of their ancestors, and for the ongoing effects of these injustices on marginalized communities. Similarly, the ongoing struggles of Indigenous peoples and other minority groups can also lead to feelings of guilt and responsibility among those who benefit from their oppression.

While guilt can be a powerful motivator for positive change, it can also be a source of stress and anxiety. In some cases, guilt can become overwhelming and lead to feelings of shame, self-doubt, and depression. Therefore, it is important for individuals to find healthy ways to process and address their guilt, such as through education, activism, or therapy.

I think the issue in Canada is that our current Prime Minister has perpetuated a sense of guilt for the last eight years to the point where we are so mired in a national guilt that we fail to see all the wonderful things this country has to offer its citizens.

We are consistently reminded through the media and the continual apologies by our Prime Minister that we are a country that should carry the yoke of remorse. To alleviate the guilt, we are coached to tear down our monuments, cancel our history, and constantly repent for the sins of our forefathers (can I even say that word anymore?)

My call-to-action for everyone, and especially the Leader of His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, is to get out of this victim mentality and start to celebrate all the wonderful aspects of Canada and being Canadian. 

In the past we were proud of our heritage. We were proud of being a military power. We completed incredible projects like the Welland Canal, two trans-national railways, the Trans-Canada Highway. We invented insulin, basketball and perfected hockey. We used to laud Canadians like Sir John A. Macdonald, Victoria Cross recipient Billy Bishop , Tommy Douglas, Chris Hadfield, and countless more.

I truly believe the next war will be in the arctic, a region in which Canada can’t protect its sovereignty against intrusions from China and Russia.  We can’t afford to buy homes, and many can’t afford to heat our home and buy food. We release violent murders like Paul Bernardo to a medium security jail because we are worried about his rights.

Our Prime Minister has left us with such a sense of national guilt that we don’t even seem to question the degree to which this country is falling apart and has been systematically separated from east to west.

Ultimately, whether guilt is healthy depends on how it is experienced and expressed. When guilt is used as a catalyst for positive change and growth, it can be a powerful force for good. However, when guilt becomes a burden that weighs us down and prevents us from moving forward, it can be detrimental to our mental and emotional well-being.

So, I challenge you every day to find and think about something beautiful and good in this country and to share it on social media. 

For me It’s when I do a back country run or climb a mountain, I SEE this beautiful place I call home. Perhaps if we do this enough, we will break the cycle of national guilt and recreate the national pride we used to have in spades.

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