Appeared in the North Shore News – January 4, 2013
OF the Little Things we have plenty; just listen to the recitation of Saturday night carnage on Sunday morning radio. The Big Questions remain.
What can explain this strange species that can randomly spray bullets at little kids and their teachers – and compassionately, expensively, search for and rescue a couple of lost dogs in the wilderness, pull out horses stuck in the mire, fight powerful corporations to save the habitat of the small red-legged frog and the towering moose, lobby for the lives of fish unaware they have determined human champions?
How can a Willie Pickton walk the same earth as the utterly decent, career-sacrificing Wally Oppal who earnestly headed a no-win commission and was vilified by a trumped-up journalist for his pains?
Who or what selects why some of us had Christmas dinner solely by the grace of the Salvation Army, the United Gospel Mission, Catholic charities, Downtown Eastside’s First United Church and others, while others complain about the third day of turkey dinner leftovers?
Why should the roll of the cosmic dice confer wealth and worldly success on A, and dump bankruptcy and ruin on equally qualified and industrious B?
Where is the fairness when the inheritance of invisible DNA and the genes of unknown forebears with mental and physical good health gives some fortunate children a lead far down the track from the starting line right at birth, while others are left out the race because of a bad legacy that produces fetal alcoholism, ignorant mothers and brutal fathers, prejudice based on ethnicity, class and wealth, and no one to read a book to them or give them proper breakfast?
Even more puzzling, more amazing, in the end inexplicable, how is it that some people afflicted with the above-named evils surmount all difficulties, triumph over all adversity, climb all life’s mountains, and give hope to similar underprivileged millions and win respect from the rest, while some blessed with the above-named advantages blow it all, make nothing of their promise, fall into drink or drugs or dissolute idleness, and are of no use to man or beast?
Why, for that matter, do some single mothers – almost invariably a tragedy behind the term – raise good children who become good and successful adults, while parents in model homes and circumstances spawn brats and failures?
What jest of the gods gives capitalism a bad name for producing the likes of super-swindler Bernie Madoff (and now his brother Peter), and, uncomfortably close to home, West Vancouver’s fraudsters, so numerous that outstanding Vancouver Sun columnist David Baines recently needed three or four columns to profile them – yet honest businesses and entrepreneurs write big cheques to support the arts, amateur sports, libraries, hospitals, universities, food banks and all manner of good causes, their small-print names at the bottom of advertisements and programs habitually ignored, and of course never mentioned by the anti-capitalist left?
It baffles the mind that the planet has room for such a wide spectrum of humankind. Alexander Pope, not a name on many lips today, the technique of his verse and the breadth of his thought joined in brilliant concision, concluded about the human animal 280 years ago: “The glory, jest and riddle of the world!”
Yes, from the Newtown gunman to the Dalai Lama.
. . .
Speaking of lists, they’re booby-traps. Two weeks ago, citing North Shore Vancouver Sun staffers in this space, I omitted late sports columnist Jim Kearney, “the best of us all,” old colleague Nat Cole wrote me, and then there’s five Halls-of-Famer Jim Taylor, author of more than a dozen books in “retirement.”
Most mortifying, I left out Jonathan Manthorpe, who can readily explain complex politics afar better than any foreign correspondent I know. Popular publisher Don Babick, who did everything journalistic everywhere, was also passingly a West Vancouverite.
Cole enriched the juicy Sun story I cited about the couple trapped when a Murphy bed snapped shut: “The fellow was not a sailor, but a tugboat crewman, and the lady involved was the wife of the tugboat captain.”
You mean illicit sex existed even then?
. . .
For West Vancouverites and others still under the impression that official community plans are worth much more than the paper they’re written on, Madam Justice Mary Newbury of the B.C. Court of Appeal disillusioned them in a case in 2012, concerning a challenge by a coalition of residents to a Central Saanich rezoning bylaw that allowed residential development of land previously designated as agricultural.
As summed up by Evan Cooke, a lawyer often involved in such matters, the court ruled that an OCP is “a visionary statement of policy . . . (not) a specific set of laws.” Cooke called the decision good news for developers. And, as in West Van, for the local bureaucrats who enable them.
© Trevor Lautens, 2013