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Mayor’s Column – October 12, 2016

October 12, 2016

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much (Helen Keller)! She’s right, more right than we might think. If anyone has reason to feel alone, Helen Keller certainly did. Rendered deaf and blind by illness at the age of 19 months, with the help of a committed teacher and life-time companion she emerged from silence and darkness to bless the world in four languages, travel extensively, write prolifically, speak in opposition to war, for women’s suffrage, and in support of other progressive causes.

And another wisdom: Great things are done by a series of small things brought together (Vincent Van Gogh, Artist).

In Chetwynd we experience many of the challenges that other communities face only, perhaps, to a smaller degree. We know we have community members who daily confront the merciless clamors of addiction. Fentanyl seems to be the latest scourge to ravage our drug users. In powdered form it is blowing in very cheaply from foreign sources. One hundred times more potent than morphine, fentanyl kills. And it kills cheaply. The margin of error is very small. Hundreds of OD deaths have occurred already this year in British Columbia. To my knowledge, we are still anticipating the first for our home town.

Unlike in the Lower Mainland where the chronically addicted are the most in danger, in the interior of British Columbia it is the social user and the small-group party users who seem to be the most in danger. Whatever the user’s environment, anyone who tampers with fentanyl must have a strong death wish.

We started out musing on the words of people who have made enormous contributions to our world and our society through little-by-little adding to the gifts they were given. Hellen Keller was given blindness, deafness, and a great teacher. She made enormous contributions to our thinking patterns, our values, and our outcomes. By adding a pixel here and another there on his canvas (to use a modern electronics term for the venerable art of painting), Van Gogh left us with works of mind and hand that inspire and lead us to better things.

But it is by little and little that we accomplish great dreams. Hellen Keller didn’t master four languages overnight. Van Gogh didn’t create masterpieces of art in a day. Neither will the fentanyl user climb out of the pit without decision and determined effort.

Chetwynd is blessed to have much in the way of little things that together can make great differences in the lives of each one of us. We have schools and committed teachers who can and do go beyond the requirements of the job to be a help to the young people in their groping for a way to the future. We have police whose vision is to nurture and mentor youth through their difficult transition to maturity. And parents. We’ve all had parents who have travelled the road ahead of us and who do their best to shape our minds to make the right decisions.

And we have our own minds that, if allowed the freedom to think clearly and rationally can, with all the other helps at hand, steer us around the pitfalls that the criminal element will always put in our way.

Alone, we can do so little. But we’re not alone. Take that first small step: reach out to the help that surrounds you.


Merlin Nichols, Mayor