Belonging: The Paradox of Citizenship
By Adrienne Clarkson
This is a wonderfully inspiring book by the twenty-sixty Governor General of Canada. She served from 1999 to 2006. She was invited to give the Massey Lecture Series at the University of Toronto on belonging in 2014 as part of the CBC Radio Ideas Series.
In this book, Clarkson argues that a sense of belonging is a necessary mediation between an individual and a society. She chronicles the evolution of citizenship throughout the ages from the beginning of the idea of the citizen in Greece to the medieval structures of guilds and class and much more to the present day citizenship based on shared values, consensus, and pluralism.
One of the hardest things for new citizens would be to feel that they belong. We assume that belonging starts at home with our families. When we’re infants, we depend on our families to nurture and protect us. Gradually, we become independent, learning behavior and values from other people. But belonging can have wider significance and meaning as it does for new citizen.
Clarkson knows first-hand how it feels to not belong anywhere. She truly understands the anguish of not belonging and talks compassionately in her book about plight of new citizens. She also argues for the importance of public education which helps to create a cohesive society.
What a GREAT book! I will be reading Clarkson’s other books pretty soon!
Rating: 5+ stars
Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth