January 10, 2018
It’s January, noticeably January (though it has warmed by 40 degrees since those last bitter chill days of December), and the commerce of the community is rolling past on steel and rubber with intelligent (I trust), self-aware beings at the controls who, I have to trust, are themselves aware of other selves sharing the road with them. It was actually revitalizing to come to work this second day of 2018 after a few days of semi-comatose rest and relaxation, cowering indoors from the cold, during which I read at least one book and parts of half a dozen other books plus several journals, and to see the evidence of industry at work. Wide loads with flashing pilots on their way to job sites, empty coal haulers heading back to the mine, loaded log trucks about to deliver their goods to the mills, trucks weighed down with lumber turning on to the highways with cargos destined to build new houses in far-away places. Beautiful!
Schools are back in session; young scholars are pushing the limits of their imaginations as they wonder when they will ever have to use quadratic equations or that pesky second law of something or other about which the Mayor is forever ranting.
No, my young friends, you will never have to use either in many career options. But if you ever aspire to grow up the steps of responsibility at Canfor or at West Fraser or at Enbridge or at BC Hydro or in government, or in your own business, you will never say, on reaching the heights (of any profession), “Why did I ever waste my time studying history or literature or mathematics or science.” Of that I am certain and I will bet my old age on its truth.
History, literature, science, art, mathematics, all sharpen the intellect, open doors, even doors unseen and unimagined. These disciplines are the lenses through which you will see and interpret the world. They are the filters through which you will sift the data from the media, the government, the tax office, and every other source of information or misinformation north or south of 49. They are the keys that will open the future that you cannot now even imagine (and neither can I).
Yes, of course you can argue, quite rightly, that some of the most successful people the world has ever produced were not highly successful as students. I could name a couple of them. (Just saw another load of logs roll into town on Goodyear rubber. It’s quite likely that the engineers in the Goodyear plant developing always-safer, always-more-durable rubber did not give up on their formal education in grade 11.) But your chances of success and satisfaction in ten or twenty years are vastly increased if you develop strong self-discipline now in your formative years, while your parents are paying the bills. (Incidentally, that ten or twenty years will go by just as fast if you do nothing about your intellect.)
I didn’t start out to rant about the importance of getting an education. It just happened. Once I typed “schools are” there was no turning back. I guess I got that from my mom who, in our rugged life in the bush, kept insisting that I would go to college. As it happens, she was right. But don’t ever think that education stops when you walk out of the classroom for the last time with your Red Seal or High School Diploma or College Degree. The classroom is only the beginning. You’ve got to keep reading, keep studying, keep probing the limits of your intellect – or die intellectually. Pity the college grad who never cracks another book. They’re out there.
So, moms and dads, Chetwynd might be built on wheels and prosper on wheels, but it’s the minds of your kids who will keep the wheels turning and really make this town a place of wonder and amazement to those passing through. Inspire your offspring by personal reading, by personally stretching your own minds, by increasing your skills in whatever field you work. Visit the library, the soul of the community, and spend time there with your kids while they are young and then don’t drop the habit. Incidentally, the library is the subject of much thought and discussion at Council and with the Peace River Regional District. It needs attention in the most immediate way. Keep in touch with developments as we study the options.
By the way, the heights by great men and women reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night (author forgotten).
Happy and prosperous 2018.
Merlin Nichols, Mayor