Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Vive la Différence (or Why FIFO is a Four-Letter Word)

This post contains profanity,
which I usually avoid -
but they started it.

When I pulled up behind the truck at the stop light I couldn't help but see the words emblazoned in the back window. And while I pondered about the level of class it takes to drive around with the world identifying you through the profanity you have chosen to display on your vehicle it wasn't the words that really troubled me. It was the message behind the words.

"Fit In or Fuck Off" it said.

As soon as I read it I started to think about what the driver of the truck was trying to say. Who did they think needs to "fit in" exactly? And into what definition of fitting in, exactly? It felt like I was back in high school, with the local bully/thug trying to tell the nerdy kid that they didn't fit in and that therefore they deserved the beating they were about to get - but this is even far uglier than the school bully, because I suspect the "fit in or fuck off" sentiment might be directed at those in our multiculturally diverse community. And I say it because this is not the first time I have heard it.

There are those who believe that everyone in this country should be the same, leaving behind them all cultural differences when they arrive and putting aside whatever history and culture they hold dear. Now, never mind that Canada is an amalgam of the places we all immigrated from (just look at our cuisine, our perogies and sushi and stir fry and pasta and butter chicken for a small example). We have created our culture from those that contributed to it when they arrived here from other countries, and we continue to do so as we welcome new immigrants who bring their culture and beliefs with them. But at some point along the way some of us forgot that we are, for the most part, immigrant stock as well (with the exception of our First Nations peoples), and that we were newcomers here once too.

The entire concept of "fit in or fuck off" (FIFO) is so fundamentally flawed in every respect. Those who tout it must not realize that if we all were the same how boring life, and our country, would be. They must truly not understand that we built this country from a multitude of other cultures and traditions, and that one of our finest attributes has been our ability to enable those who call this home to celebrate their culture and traditions and share them with others. And they probably didn't attend the recent local multicultural event, one which was attended by over 2,000 people in just one day. A lot of the people at that event probably don't fit into the "fit in or fuck off" world - and thank god for that.

You see I think "fitting in" is absolute and utter bullshit. I can almost guarantee I wouldn't "fit in" to the world of the driver of that truck, and I doubt they "fit in" to mine - but in my world there is room for them, and I would never direct them to "fuck off" because their ideas don't match mine. However it seems they have no trouble with making that demand, telling the world that if they don't "fit in" to their world then they should "fuck off". For the record, that's not a world I have even the vaguest interest in "fitting in" to.

This is a country that celebrates cultural diversity. This is a country that celebrates differences, whether they are of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. This is a country that not only accepts those that are the not the same but celebrates and appreciates the differences because the differences are what makes this country unique and special and valuable. We are not a country where an ad of our national anthem being sung in different languages could evoke bigotry and hatred. We are not a country of bland "everyone should be the same" automatons. We are not a country of "fit in or fuck off", because just like I realized in high school after an encounter with a bully most people don't  really "fit in", they add their differences to the world - and the world is a better place for it.

As for the concept of "fit in or fuck off"? I suppose I could tell those who peddle it to fuck off - but instead I would ask where their ancestors came from, and suggest that maybe they think about how they would have felt had their new country greeted those ancestors with that sentiment. Because their ancestors didn't "fit in", they brought their differences and helped to build this astonishingly diverse and vibrant nation, a nation where we can all be so proud to live. Thank god they didn't fit in - or fuck off, because we are what we are today because of them.

1 comment:

  1. To what ad would you be referring to? I'm guessing the Coca-Cola ad?