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Mayor’s Column – April 25, 2018

April 25, 2018


Chetwynd, our sanctuary in a big, blue, sometimes hostile world? Are we actually in the same world with Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin and Mr. Assad and the other pugilists in the ring of life?

About a week and a few days ago on a late Friday afternoon my attention was arrested by a most un-Trump-like speech by President Trump announcing that he had carried out his threat to punish President Assad for his gas attack on his own civilians – and that in the face of Mr. Putin’s threat to retaliate in kind.

The rhetoric leading up to the action was unsettling. Like two bullies on a playground: “If you hit my friend, I’ll hit you back and I’ll break your bat when I do it.” Only these guys have pretty big bats; they can do a lot of damage to the rest of us in the playground if they go at it with gusto.

I do admit, it was the best speech I have heard from President Trump. With measured tones and carefully chosen words he sounded surprisingly presidential. He must have made his voters proud as he made America great again – for a moment. But let’s not get too smug. The United States is great and the United States has a role to play among the nations that is yet to be seen.

But what does a spat between two nations, mighty as they are, have to do with us in Chetwynd, hidden as we think we are in the hills way up here in the North East? Lots, I submit.

Like it or not, the geopolitical flexing of military and economic muscles by the nations of the world has and will continue to have major repercussions (not all of them negative) on our ability to pay our mortgages, buy our groceries, and fill our gas tanks. We might not see the results immediately or even in the next months but we can’t ultimately escape the effects of causes far or near as the nations continue to play chicken.

The recent and ongoing trade dispute between China and the United States is a contest we do well to watch because its effects will be felt in our home town.

Here I am, going on about wrestling matches far away and out of sight when we have our own made-at-home issues with potential for immediate and painful bruisings. You’ve heard of Kinder Morgan? Of course you have. Will the opponents gain the day? Will Kinder Moran throw his hands in the air and truck home to Texas pulling his pipes behind him? Will Alberta put the economic squeeze on us in British Columbia? Will we be paying $2.50 or more for a liter of gasoline as we watch our grocery prices escalate? (At that rate most of you pickup drivers will be shelling out maybe 50 bucks a trip to drive to DC and back. Incentive enough for shopping locally, maybe?)

Is the threat to our coastlines real or contrived? Maybe. How big is real? Is it possible to ship oil safely? Perhaps – if we are willing to pay the price.

On the other hand, are the so-called green energy sources really environmentally clean and green? It takes 100 tons of coal to make one wind tower. In our country, that coal is dug out of the mountains in caribou habitat. Should we shut the mines down?

What about the stuff we won’t willingly give up? It takes 12,500 tons of coal to keep us in fingernail clippers in North America. I can’t even begin to calculate the weight of coal required to keep us in zippers and belt buckles and shoelace eyes and electric plugs and car wheels and cell phones and laptops and nails and screwdrivers and frying pans and ear rings.

Indeed, we could learn to get along with less. Maybe we should start learning sooner than later. But getting along with less also has unavoidable consequences for those who supply us with the things we use and abuse. In the meantime, let’s prize what we have, take care of it, be carefully honest stewards of our Creator-given resources, and prepare ourselves as best we can for the unknowns the future certainly will bring on in its time.

So what is our place in the world? I’m afraid each of us will have to find her or his place as an individual in a complex, materialistic society. Success to you!

Oh for the wisdom of Solomon!

And by the way, recently I have learned that three billion people have to use animal dung for fuel in 2018. Can’t imagine what the Vancouver air would be like if the city went brown like half the world? Not sure where we’d get enough dung. Truck it in from Texas?

Furthermore, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this you will heap burning coals on his head” (an ancient proverb that is valid today, but how can we say it in words that our leaders will understand).


Merlin Nichols, Mayor