Thanks to what we take for granted
Our family leads a modest life by American standards and assuredly compared to the second-home opulence adorning Eagle County, particularly the eastern reaches.
The captain and I could still dine the other night at the same Beaver Creek restaurant hosting Colorado royalty in the Bowden clan (owner of the Broncos), the Singletons (publisher of the Denver Post and CEO of one of the country’s major newspaper companies) and the Schmidts (restaurateurs) marking their Thanksgiving holiday tradition. Of course, the menfolk were off at one football game or another – Nebraska on Friday, then to San Diego for Sunday’s contest.
These royalty required no observable security. Members of the party felt free to banter with the hoi polloi at the bar. This is America, Beaver Creek anyway. For all they knew, we might be somebody, too.
No less a classic than Edward Abbey’s “Monkey Wrench Gang” contains the observation that here, relatively few people equate money with human worth even though we’re awfully busy in our pursuit of the most cash we can accumulate just as quickly as we can amass it. Maybe us poor folk figure we’re just a lucky strike away from stepping up. Here, all things are possible. All this and the lottery, too.
Our fascination with celebrity is a bit much, though, and I succumb in this column by referencing names myself. Though there’s a point to it, I think. My nuclear family is tied by marriage to richer still, though they aren’t “names” in this sense. But they, too, have their yacht cruising the world, their family jet, their scions with fancy job titles but not enough in the way of honest work to do. No, can’t say I’m impressed.
Meanwhile, there’s Afghanistan. Iraq, for that matter. The entire Middle East, south Asia, the former Soviet Union, all of Africa. Outside of their royalty, well …
Here, we can afford to fret about SUVs, whether unnaturally dense forests or logging is the bigger environmental problem, about Wall Street and the consumer confidence indexes, our kids testing “average.”
For stress, we turn to shopping. Oh, the horror. The holiday season is upon us. Woe if the gift target returns our presents. I’m thinking of local environmentalist Adam Palmer’s recent letter to the editor about our society’s “affluenza,” a sickness from wealth – the fact of our being spoiled, frankly. What was it, the average gift account for Christmas comes to $1,000 or so?
And we’re seriously concerned about the holiday shopping season’s effect on our economy? It’s a far cry from daily life with the local warlord and his Stinger-laden guards.
I know, I know, I work for the newspaper and by all self-protective rights should live by the vagaries of shopping, which trickles down to advertising, which pays the paper’s bills. At a certain level, indeed I do. Economic tough times have meant laying people off, leaving positions unfilled, pain. The better times mean adding to our resources, and if we do that well, better journalism. The challenges of growth, selfishly speaking, invariably are more pleasant than the realities of decline.
I chewed on this after we said our prayer of thanks, family all holding hands and taking turns. No, I wouldn’t trade. Modest as our meal may have been by Vail Valley standards, we had far more than we could eat in a day, two days, maybe three or four. Also, we could cater from the local supermarket, counting on fresh food from all over the globe, as a middle class and in our mind a still struggling family. Don’t let your children grow up to be journalists. (Still, here the price for speaking out is mere scorn; in those other countries?)
In lieu of wondering where your next meal is coming from, our great challenges are pedestrian. For this we can thank a naturally bountiful land, to be sure.
More so, though, it’s our political system that we take so much for granted, or in some ignorance casually spurn when we aren’t busy ignoring it. This is our earthly savior, what separates us from the Afghani fate, the violent chaos, which afflicts too much of the world.
Managing Editor Don Rogers can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 600, or firstname.lastname@example.org