There are people who think they can just change an organization culture as easily as you might upgrade your wardrobe. I'm not one of them, actually. I'm still trying to figure out why no one in my city seems to respect the red lights anymore.
I've had a couple of things tucked away gathering dust that seemed to shed light on this, but they're not all that well connected. Maybe you can figure it out...
First datum: Michael Adams, Fire and Ice, USA and Canada
It's doubtful that anyone in America cares as much about our cultural differences as we do, chronic navel-gazers that we are here in Canada, but Michael Adams is a big thinking researcher who has studied this quite a bit. He wrote a great article for Vue, called Sex and Fire: religion, homosexuality and authority in Canada and the United States.
Adams says that religion is the effect, not the cause. Religion, in this case, refers to the massive difference in church attendance between Canadians and Americans. Adams says this is about attitudes toward authority, not religion, per se.
Adams says this about family values:
when a Republican says he or she believes in family values, while it is not implausible to assume that this person is intolerant of homosexuality and opposed to gay marriage, it is wrong to read intolerance as the essential meaning of the statement.
Family values are actually about "responsibility, fidelity, moral rectitutde and other goods". We largely did not understand that where I live.
Adams believes that "orientation to authority is the 'X Factor' which drives both ... religion and attitudes toward homosexuality."
Second Straw in the Wind - a letter to the editor about four dead Mounties
We recently had a situation near Edmonton where four of our RCMP were shot by a single bad guy. The last time something this big happened the date was 18-something. I like to read the letters to the editor as a barometer of sorts, and there was one letter about this incident from a Canadian born law-enforcement officer from Illinois, who said this:
Each time [I visit] I have noticed a little more of an erosion of the high respect for social order for which Canada is known. ...If I have learned one thing in almost 20 years of policing, it is that even minor breaches of the peace ultimately erode the fabric of society. (Globe and Mail letters, March 12, 2005)
You might not know this, but the Canadian equivalent of "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" has always been felt to be "Peace, order and good government".
Third Straw in the Wind -- Official Apologies
The same day, a federal official who was jailed for taking bribes (not a very Canadian thing to do - we deplore graft) made this apology for his acts:
"I deeply regret the embarassment and aggravation which have come about as a result of my actions"
If I get this right, it is not the essential wrong nature of the actions, but the inconvenience caused to the perpetrator that are being discussed here. (Ref. Globe and Mail March 12, 2005).
What Does It All Mean?
Community and social order doesn't seem to be as important to us here as it once was. This might look like a little ripple on the water, but I don't think so. I think the waves are coming, perhaps slowly, but we'd best pay attention.