We are witnessing increased and intensified polarization all over the world. History is full of examples of divided societies and political disparity, which contributed to shaping policies and influenced the course of peace and war. Disparity, exclusion, diversity and cultural differences may give rise to extreme standpoints.
Elements such as nationalism, identity, distribution of wealth and language are generally used for political purposes. Unfortunately, these elements create discord and division and are responsible for divergence. Society is then pulled apart and driven to conflicting extremes.
|Montreal, Canada – The Botanical Garden – Richard Cavalleri|
Politics in Montreal is of a linguistic nature. As a newcomer I was always fascinated by the ability of Montrealers to switch between languages with an astonishing degree of fluidity. Montreal is a bilingual city par excellence. A city that embraces cultures and creates a blend that thrills and bewilders. However, the magic vanishes when one digs deeper and goes beyond the appearances. Montreal has its differences and internal controversies. It is a city with polarized opinions.
Advocating the French language casts its shadow on the world of politics, as well as day-to-day life in Montreal. Demographically, the city is divided into two parts, English and French. The western part of the island is anglophone and the eastern part is francophone. The language can be a mélange, French words can be used extensively when speaking English and vice versa. However, language on the island of Montreal might pose a challenge. Bilingual francophones sometimes hesitate to use English and may refuse to speak it, the same applies to French speaking anglophones.
|Montreal, Canada – Sunday morning – Lucas Paita|
Very proud of their heritage and cultural distinction, the French protect a language that distinguishes them. They defend and preserve a culture in the face of imminent risks and the threat of extinction. Without emphasizing the French aspect, manifested primarily through the French language, there is a risk of its disappearance. The threat is especially serious since Quebec shares borders with America and the rest of Canada, which are predominantly English speaking.
The Anglophones in Quebec may feel disadvantaged, as the French language always comes first. Nonetheless, the French Quebecers defend the policies of promoting French values, the language and culture in the province, saying that no other minority has the privileges that the anglophones in Quebec have. After all, the anglophones can send their kids to English speaking schools, colleges and universities. They also can have “Stop” signs instead of “Arret” in their streets and neighborhoods!
|Montreal, Canada – The Botanical Garden – meunierd|
Some believe that the predominance of French and the ardent belief in protecting it as the Province’s official language have caused the divide between the two communities. The French, however, see this differently. Historically, after the French lost the war against the British, they felt that they were colonized and treated unjustly by the British. Many French people became poor and lacked education due to the British policies. Furthermore, some English politicians wished to assimilate the French speaking Canadians into English culture. English officials for the most part did not speak French at that time and they forced the French population to speak English. For the Quebecers, this is particularly offensive as Quebec is a French territory and its people have the right to speak their own language. The more the British tried to assimilate the French, the more the French resisted.
Thanks to French culture, Quebecers have a welfare system that is the most generous in Canada but with the highest taxes. Without the French influence, the welfare system would not exist in its current form. Many are proud of paying their taxes, which can reach up to half of their income, because they feel that the system pays off. Yes, they pay a substantial amount in taxes, more than any other Canadian in other provinces, but education is affordable and healthcare is free.
|Montreal, Canada – Downtown – Sebastien Cordat|
The French aspect in Quebec is especially interesting when examining the challenges of immigration. Quebec welcomes immigrants but it also stresses that immigrants should learn French as their first language. This would advance the survival of the language and culture. Beyond a shadow of doubt, Canada is a bilingual country with two official languages, but in Quebec French is the official language and it is more important. Therefore, immigrants don’t need to worry if they don’t speak the language, as the government of Quebec offers French immersion programs free of charge.
Montreal has its differences but it prides itself on being a home for everyone. The struggle for the French language as an official language has safeguarded it and served to create a bilingual society. By mastering English and French, Quebecers were able to develop a linguistic amalgam. French words such as dépanneur (convenience store), chalet (cottage), autoroute (highway) are used in English whereas semi-English phrases such as these are commonly used in French: j’ai uploadé le document (I uploaded the document), j’ai un hangover (I have a hangover).
|Montreal, Canada – The Botanical Garden – Bob Hilscher|
It is true that polarization divides and can create disagreements and rivalries. However, language builds bridges, it connects people, it paves the way for unity and mutual benefits. Speaking the language of the other is understanding them and working with them towards a better future without discord or division. The coexistence of English and French or bilingualism in Montreal is a powerful tool to overcome differences. Montreal is home to the two societies and home is a place where the other has equal rights and can enjoy the same privileges. After all, both have more to unite them than to divide them.
Snapshot 1: Montreal, Canada – In the grass – Martin Reisch (Unsplash)
Snapshot 2: Montreal, Canada – The Botanical Garden – Richard Cavalleri (Shutterstock)
Snapshot 3: Montreal, Canada – Sunday morning – Lucas Paita (Unsplash)
Snapshot 4: Montreal, Canada – The Botanical Garden – meunierd (Shutterstock)
Snapshot 5: Montreal, Canada – Downtown – Sebastien Cordat (Unsplash)
Snapshot 6: Montreal, Canada – The Botanical Garden – Bob Hilscher (Shutterstock)
Cinemblem voiceover: Talia Stotts
Cinemblem: Perypatetik youtube channel
The Syncretion of Polarization and Extremes
Ahmed, Amina. Growing up with Abuse: A Life of Extremes – Lebanon. April 2019.
Alencar, Joana. Lack of Social Trust – Brazil. January 2019.
Awdejuk, Pawel. Pole-arization – Poland. June 2019.
Baccino, Alejandra. Polarization within Ourselves – South America. January 2019.
Bondarenko, Evgeny. What You Sow Does Not Come To Life Unless It Dies – Ukraine. May 2019.
Cannarella, Daniela. A Past-Present Dicotomia – Italy. June 2019.
Casas, Marilin Guerrero Casas. Balance – Cuba. May 2019.
Cordido, Veronica. Hanging by Extremes – Venezuela. January 2019.
Dastan, S.A. Polarization and the Epidemic of Extremity – Turkey. August 2019.
Escandell, Andrea da Silva. The Illogic of Extremes – Uruguay. May 2019.
Gomez, Javier. The Canyon Inside Us – Argentina. July 2019.
Hernandez, Jonay Quintero. Extremism Is Now the New Hype? – Spain. February 2019
Israyelyan, Mania. Polarized Within Ourselves – Armenia. June 2019.
Julber, Lillian. Difficult to Understand – Uruguay. July 2019.
Kanunova, Nigina. Role of Polarization in the Life of an Individual and Society – Tajikistan. July 2019.
Montano, Osvaldo. Progress in the Face of Polarization – Bolivia. February 2019.
Protić, Aleksandar. Linguistic Balkanization as a Means of Polarization – The Balkans. June 2019.
Ranaldo, Mary. Social Polarization – Italy. April 2019.
Ray, Sanjay Kumar. At the Crossroads – India. August 2019.
Romano, Mavi. Censorship and Cultural Survival in a World without Gods – Spain. January 2019.
Sariñana, Alejandra Gonzalez. Student Movements – Mexico. March 2019.
Sekulić, Jelena. The Polarizacija of Serbian Culture – Serbia. June 2019.
Sem, Sebastião. Brandos Costumes – Portugal. July 2019.
Sepi, Andreea. A World of Victims and Perpetrators? – Germany and Romania. February 2019.
Sevunts, Nane. The Era To Close – Armenia. March 2019.
Skobic, Alexandar. The Loss of Identity – The Balkans. April 2019.
Sitorus, Rina. Polarization in Politics: All a Cebong or Kampret – Indonesia. March 2019.
Spirito, Julieta. A Thought about Polarized Insecurity – Argentina. April 2019.
Valenzuela, Monica. Adults and Children – Peru. April 2019.
Vuka. Extreme Immunity to Functional Tax and Judicial System – Serbia. March 2019
Wallis, Toni. Walls and Resettlement – South Africa and Angola. February 2019.
Williams, Jazz Carl. Unfinished Episodes – Spain. May 2019.
Zakharova, Anastasiya. Feminism – Russia. August 2019.
CW 35 – Spain – Virginia Sanmartin Lopez
CW 36 – Turkey – Peren Cakir
CW 37 – Armenia – Hayk Antonyan
CW 38 – Italy – Sara Deiana
CW 39 – Montenegro – Nikolina Pavicevic
CW 40 – Columbia – Christian Escobar
CW 41 – Kenya – Kenn Mwangi
CW 42 – Pakistan – Muhammad Kashif Shahid
CW 43 – Tunisia – Sarah Turki
CW 44 – Estonia – Margot Arula
CW 45 – Ghana – Kwasi Amankwah Awuah
CW 46 – Dominican Republic – Aura De Los Santos
CW 47 – Montenegro – Nikolina Pavicevic
CW 48 – America – Talia Stotts
CW 49 – Philippines – Kristian Uusitalo
CW 50 – Hungary – Zoltan Monar
CW 51 – Syria/UAE/Egypt – Ahmed Ibrahim
CW 52 – Nigeria – Ethelbert Umeh
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed