Hello again from the city of sin!
“Count your blessings,
one, two, three
I just hate keeping score.
Any number is fine with me
As long as it’s more
As long as it’s more!” – Madonna “More”
GREED: the desire for material wealth or gain,
ignoring the realm of the spiritual.
Now here’s a sin I am intimate with. Been there, done that,
bought the overpriced t-shirt. In Las Vegas,
there is no shortage of greed on
both sides of the table.
On one side we have the gamblers, good folks mostly, just
like you and me, who have come for a little fun and hopefully (oh, please,
please, please) the chance to go home with a fortune. On the other side, the
Casinos, those monoliths of capitalism at its worst, who do everything short of
hooking up a vacuum hose to the wallets of their guests to get as many pesos as
possible. Who’s the bad guy in this picture? We all are. We are drawn together
by our greed.
After so many Chronicles standing up on my soapbox, wagging
my finger, I thought it was time I turned the accusing eye inward. I’m greedy; I’ll be the first to admit it. Blame
it on the fact that I was the baby of the family and spoiled rotten, or the
fact that I spent ten years in a business that encouraged it, or just good old
human nature, whatever, it doesn’t matter; I am greedy. It takes a conscious effort on my part to control my desire
to have more. I fight the bear. Sometimes I win. Sometimes the bear
wins. But I fight; I sincerely hope that counts for something.
The thing about greed
is it’s insidious. When I was working for minimum wage, subsisting at just
above poverty level, I would dream of how wonderful it would be to win even ten
thousand dollars – oh the things I would do, the fun I would have! Years later,
when my tax bill alone was over thirteen thousand, I dreamed of how wonderful
it would be to be a millionaire, or even better a multi-millionaire (a million
bucks just doesn’t go that far these days)!! And had my income continued to
climb, so too would have the dollar figures of my dreams. Now? Well I still
dream but I’ve learned a few hard lessons about being happy with and
appreciating what you have.
I am a gambler by nature. I take risks that many would not
and as a result I have had thrilling highs and despondent lows. Vegas is
probably the worst place in the world for a person like me to be, believe me I
know it. My savior, what keeps me grounded, keeps me here in our little studio
listening to the birds and watching the swaying palms instead of hurling myself
headlong into the lights and the palm sweating action of the casino are words.
Beautiful, humble, satisfying, words. Whether I am writing or reading them,
they have the power to keep the monster of greed
chained and quiet. How I love the written word!
There are many people out there, thank goodness, who can’t
understand gambling, especially how you can lose and just keep going, keep
losing hundreds, thousands of dollars. It is GREED. You are at the blackjack table, you’ve won a hundred dollars
in a little less than an hour and you could walk away but Greed whispers in your ear, C’mon
you can win another hundred dollars, look
how easy it is! So you tell
yourself that as soon as you win another hundred you’ll leave. But you don’t
win, you start to lose. At this point you can still walk away ahead but Greed is still calling the shots, you can get it back! Now you tell
yourself that as soon as you get back to that original hundred you will leave
no matter what. But you keep losing, and now you have lost all of that hundred.
You can still leave and be even. Well
that’s stupid? What a waste of time, you didn’t come here to sit around for two
hours and walk out even did
you? And now you start to lose your own money. Pretty soon you’re down a
hundred and you start to go on tilt because you have to get that hundred back. Greed has deserted you in your time of
need and left Desperation to talk you through things. Desperation, as you will soon discover, is a nutcase, urging you to
throw dollar after dollar away to chase down the money you have already lost.
Whether you meet them at the casino, or in the stock market, on the job, in a
pyramid scheme, or at multi-level marketing meeting, Greed and Desperation
are never too far from each other waiting to play you like a cheap violin.
Humans are greedy;
somehow we (most of us) are wired up to want more, more, more even at the cost
of our own well being. Greed clouds
the mind, makes you focus on the very short term. When all of our wild spaces
are paved, when we sit in our luxury condos looking out over not forest but
simply more luxury condos, will we suddenly wake up and realize what we’ve
done? What we’ve taken away from our children and their children?
I am going to ask for your help in a moment, and it is not a
request I make lightly. But first, let me tell you about the Kootenays.
One of the qualities I love most about British
Columbia, my home, is that we have fought to keep our
wilderness. Sure there’s lots of dough to be made by exploiting the environment
but, thankfully, enough folks have been farsighted enough to recognize the
intrinsic value of nature. Many would say, and I am inclined to agree, that
we’ve already done more damage than we should have. The Kootenays in South
Eastern BC are a jewel in the crown of our province, our country and the world.
This area is home to five mountain ranges, an inland rainforest (a very rare
eco system), hot springs, and endangered
wildlife including the majestic grizzly. Without exception, every person I have
ever spoken to, from anywhere in the world, who has visited or passed through
the Kootenays has declared the area one of the most beautiful places on the
entire earth – I agree.
Oberto Oberti, a private investor is trying to get 6000
hectares of land in the Jumbo Valley
turned into private land so that he can build a ski resort. Now, I’m not
against ski resorts, I don’t think anybody is, but let’s look at the facts. There
are already lots of ski resorts in the area that aren’t even operating at full
capacity – do we really need one more? The investor does not want to go through
local channels for approval, why? Because the overwhelming majority of local
residents do NOT want this development. I’m sure there are plenty of statistics
on both sides demonstrating why this resort would be good or bad but the bottom
line, as far as I’m concerned, is that this land belongs to the people and the
people don’t want the resort. It is the residents of Invermere who will be
shouldering the cost of the roads that must be built and maintained, waste
disposal, avalanche control, and more, for millions of dollars. Oberto Oberti,
the man who wants to build this resort, is not driven by a love of the land,
the wildlife, or the people who live there. He doesn’t care about the financial
or environmental impacts of his monstrosity. No, let’s be real, he wants to
build a lot of expensive condos and make a lot of money. His number one partner
Sadly, the Provincial government approved the Jumbo Resort
project. But just when it seemed that all was lost, that Greed would triumph, there is a glimmer of hope! Final approval of
the project rests in the hands of the Regional District and they have put off
making their decision until this fall in order to hear more public input (no
doubt due to the overwhelming opposition). And now, here is my humble request…
Please, first visit Jumbo Wild for more information (I would never
ask anyone to blindly support a cause). Second, please email or write to the
Regional District of the East Kootenay Board to let them know that you do not
support this project. As my good friend Glen (who drew my attention to this
issue – thank you Glen!) told me, non-residents who write to say “we would visit your area to see
wilderness but not a ski resort” will be a huge help.
Email: email@example.com (remember to keep it brief and polite)
Snail Mail: Regional District of the East Kootenay Board
19- 24th Ave South
Cranbrook , BC
Canada V1C 3H8
And if you have any
questions please, please don’t hesitate to email me or to post a comment. I
know together we can stop Greed from
destroying something truly rare and beautiful.
And visit the Kootenays, you’ll love it there!
Well, my latest book is calling (“Reading Lolita in Tehran”
a true story by Azar Nafisi, awesome, awesome, awesome!!!!) and I am greedy for
more words so…
Until next week, I hope this finds you healthy, happy &
KEEP JUMBO WILD!!