An Earth Shattering Question


My son and I were out for a walk last night and he asked me a question that grabbed me. The question seemed simple, but it tugged at something deep in my soul. “Dad, why do most countries end in An: American, Canadian, European, Indian, African.”

I had never thought about that before.


The question stopped me because it pointed out how we are more similar than we think. We have our differences, but AN is buried deep in our hearts.

When I say “I am a Canadian,” I am proud that I am from Canada. But saying we are Canadian (or American, Ukrainian or Australian) declares that you and I share a common spirit no matter where our feet happen to land.

Our commonality should move us more than our differences. An is buried in our hearts, but do we stop to consider what it means? 

An is an Indefinite Article. Most days I am a walking indefinite article, not sure whether I should go at the beginning or the end of things. In grammar, an indefinite article introduces a concept or idea, as in “He is an Electrician” or “I am an art lover.”

  • You and I are Indefinite Articles. On our own, not much is happening. We wander around trying to figure things out until we realize that we can only find our fit with other people. (Our significant other, our friends, our family, our work relationships, our online collaborations, and our tribes of fellow music lovers or movie lovers.) We are most creative when we are with other people who are different than us.
When we listen to people who think differently than we do, we have the potential to be changed.

The only place that you will find a room full of similar minded people is The Morgue. It is our differences that bring us to life.

  • You and I are part of something much bigger than ourselves. Our nationality should remind us that we are both members of a country and members of a planet sized Snow Globe.

We may be European, Russian, Asian, American or Canadian. In the end, we are Human. We are alone without each other.

  • You and I find our greatest energy by our allegiances. We may form around our nationality and use that energy to identify with each other, which is a good thing. Or, we use our allegiances to protect ourselves or to project our fear or hate onto others. Usually this ends up alienating each of us from other people and disconnecting us from our own souls.

When our allegiances combine with our passions, we are set on fire. We find unlimited green energy and renewed hope. The world is full of cross border, class breaking, gender bending passions: Artisan, Comedian, Musician, Academician, Beautician, or Librarian. What is yours?

How about you: Do you hear your indefinite article? You may be surprised where it will take you.

Why don’t you become part of a movement to ANnounce the things that draw us together rather than separate. Join me and declare that you too are an indefinite article.

Keep it real

Photo credit to Joe Sampouw

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