Like many Americans, I was born with a big ego and a lot of pride in my country. Which is why I felt so depressed at the Peace Arch border crossing last summer, going into and coming out of Canada.
Leaving the United States and entering Canada was like driving into a Disney theme park - a beautifully landscaped building that looked like a ski lodge flanked a long row of booths, staffed with customs agents who moved the queue of waiting cars swiftly.
And few days later, returning to America, the road narrowed to a couple of lanes that crept through a construction zone, guarded by a hand-written sign that read "No Public Access."
The world's most popular theme parks spend so much on creating impressive entrances for a reason - they make visitors feel welcomed and comfortable. (Which, in turn, encourages them to spend money.) Canada's entrance did that. America's did not. And, as an America, that frustrated me. My country ought to be better than that.
Yes, I know that we're in the process of building a new Port of Entry at Peace Arch. But why did we let ours get in such bad shape in the first place? Canada got its new facility built in plenty of time for the Olympics last year. We should have, too.
Too often in America, we think in terms of what kind of country we can afford instead of what kind of country we want to be. Trust me, Walt Disney didn't create Disneyland thinking first about only what he could afford. He thought of what he wanted his theme park to be, then found a way to pay for it.
In that respect, I wish that we Americans thought more often about our country the way Walt thought about his theme park. Why shouldn't we always strive for the best, and instead of settling for the cheap?Tweet
I'm from Scotland where our southern border joins with England. Although we are, along with Wales and Northern Ireland, part of the UK we each are immensly proud of where we come from. I was very happy to see on my last visit to England that the 'way in' to my country was adorned with a large clean sign welcoming visitors, alongside numerous Saltires (Scottish flag) flowing freely in the wind. Beautiful.
Unfortunately the same care and attention had not been put into Englands welcome - a small brown sign with 'You are now entering England'. Although even that was barely readable with all the grafitti on it. Was not impressed.
So yeah - I think it pays to put a bit of money towards the entrances!
I apreciate Dubai turning their country in one big theme park from a theme park lovers perspective. Still strikes me as particular bad policy that would result from such a mindset.
Fortunatly for Americans, America is rich. Thus talk about inability to afford certain public spending are just another way to say "i dont like that kind of spending".
This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.
Are you a NEXUS card holder? Despite the somewhat exhaustive process to get the thing, it certainly makes crossings much easier in both directions.