Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Dear President Sarkozy,

En premier, je vous enprie, pardonnez-moi, car en prudence mon français n'est pas assez fort pour l'utiliser seul ici.

It was with some pleasure that I listened this evening to reports of your off-the-cuff remarks on the occasion of confering the Legion d'Honeur on Quebec premier Jean Charest:
«Cet attachement à notre culture, à notre langue, à nos liens, pourquoi devrait-il se définir comme une opposition à qui que ce soit d'autre? [...] Croyez-vous, mes amis, que le monde, dans la crise sans précédent qu'il traverse, a besoin de division, a besoin de détestation? Est-ce que pour prouver qu'on aime les autres, on a besoin de détester leurs voisins? Quelle étrange idée! ... » 1
Verily, not the details of our cultural heritage, nor the specifics of the language we speak, nor the modes of our expression, are of primary importance. Rather, they are our servants, and they serve us well exactly when they help us express, learn, and take joy in The Truth. It were one thing to speak only correctly, but if Truth thus apeared broken or repulsive, then our speach must be doing us a disservice, and as much a disservice to Truth as well.

And again, truly the world needs more unity! Let's all be Catholic! And so I read with a tinge of unease (my bolding)
« ... Ceux qui ne comprennent pas cela, dit-il, je ne crois pas qu'ils nous aiment plus, je crois qu'ils n'ont pas compris que, dans l'essence de la Francophonie, dans les valeurs universelles que nous portons au Québec comme en France, il y a le refus du sectarisme, le refus de la division, le refus de l'enfermement sur soi-même, le refus de cette obligation de définir son identité par opposition féroce à l'autre.»
Starting at the end is easier, because here I agree: definition by opposition is both to focus on the wrong thing, and to put your identity in the merciless hands of those you oppose. What do you do if they change? But really, the proper way to self-identify is to rejoice in your actual cultural heritage, the happy unique things about where you live that sets it apart from the rest of the world: all the funny hats you wear, for instance. I have more trouble, though, reading this "rejection of sectarisme", partly because I don't feel confident interpreting the word, but partly because I suspect that --- as it is meant --- it is wrong. However, it will take a long while for me to articulate that properly, perhaps even a whole other epistle.

In brief, though, the Truth, which must inform all acts of the State, includes portions known only through Revelation, and to entirely banish these from the prudential reasoning of the State and its agents is to hopelessly cripple the State's ability to order society for the good of all.

For the most part, though, I'm gratified to hear such sentiments as you have expressed in the mouth of a public leader, whatever you may have to say about other things.

Un anglophone

1: quotations from le Devoir


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