Motley musings

  • Remember when many of us believed Walmart was the enemy of local business, responsible for the downfall of downtowns everywhere? A lot of folks refused to shop there. Now, many of the same people tell me they buy everything from Amazon. There’s more than a little irony there. At least Walmart has brick-and- mortar stores and provides jobs for local people. Walmart may not be the most generous employer in the world, but neither is Amazon, by all accounts.
  • Speaking of local business, the new Local 2 Local Checks & Cash Initiative seems to be gaining ground, with more customers paying for their restaurant meals and other local purchases with cash or checks instead of credit cards. The idea, as noted in our article last month, is to reduce the amount of money that pours out of the local economy in the form of credit-card fees (estimated at more than $6 million in Cortez alone).

But, of course, there are naysayers. Some comments on social media run along the lines of, “Credit cards are the way of the future. Merchants need to take that into account.” Well, that may be true, but there is no harm in asking people to use cash once in a while. None of the merchants have said they simply won’t accept credit cards, so if you are passionate about your plastic, go ahead and use it. After all, it doesn’t matter that much whether local merchants make it. Why do we need them, anyway, when we have Amazon? We can just order everything we need online and have it delivered to our doorsteps. And when it comes to jobs, we can all go to work at the local Amazon warehouse. . . Oh, wait.

  • I’ve grown exceedingly tired of what passes for dialogue today, which is basically people screaming at each other on cable news shows or across social media – no one listening to anyone else, just calling each other names. A good conversation can be a real pleasure, even – or especially – between people with different views, when those people are willing to listen carefully, concede a point, then make a point of their own. As in, “Yes, you’re right about that, but I also think that. . .” I enjoy such discussions and can learn from them. Apparently most people don’t feel that way, however – they’d rather spend all their time in a fuming, furious lather, worked up about “liberals” and “snowflakes” or “rightwing zealots.” It’s fine to be passionate, but when you’re passionate every waking hour about every possible subject, doesn’t it get a little tiring?
  • The gun debate is certainly one issue that inspires a great deal of rage. I can understand both sides of the argument. When it comes to freedom vs. safety, I tend to lean more toward the freedom end of the spectrum. (If all we care about is being safe, we should put computer chips in everyone’s bodies and cameras across every inch of the earth, and then we could eliminate crime. Total safety, zero privacy. It sounds awful.) So I am sympathetic to people’s desire to keep their firearms, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to imagine that there could come a day when those arms might be needed to fight a totalitarian government. An unarmed populace is more vulnerable.

But am I right on board with the NRA and its supporters? No. Some of the arguments they put forth make no sense. For instance, they contend that the tool used to commit mayhem doesn’t matter, only the intent. They’ll say, again and again, “If someone is determined to kill a person, or even a lot of people, they’ll do it – if not with a gun, then with a knife, or a rock.”

Well, if that’s true, then why do they want to own guns? Why don’t they defend their homes with knives and rocks and baseball bats? Clearly, the type of weapon and its availability do matter, whatever your intentions. I’m also annoyed by gun-rights advocates who talk about defending the Constitution but don’t seem to care about any part of it but old Amendment 2. Now, this certainly isn’t true of all gun-rights advocates. Some are familiar with the entire document and do voice concerns about violations to other portions of it. But I didn’t hear a lot of Second Amendment backers expressing outrage when Donald Trump called for shutting down media outlets he personally doesn’t like (a violation of the First Amendment), or back when law-enforcement agencies began seizing cars and homes from people alleged to be drug dealers before they were convicted (remember the Fifth Amendment?).

  • But hypocrisy isn’t the exclusive province of the right. No, all of us are hypocrites to some extent, and I see plenty of contradictions between preachings and practice when it comes to climate change.

On the one hand, you have people who choose not to believe that it’s happening, thus giving them the excuse to squander as much oil and emit as much carbon dioxide as they like without guilt. On the other, you have those of us who believe climate change is real and is being fueled by human behavior, but who aren’t really willing to alter much in our own behavior in order to benefit the planet. We hop in the car without a second thought and drive two hours to Moab for a bike ride, or an hour and a half to Farmington to speak out against oil and gas wells. Our kitchen counters, our smartphones and our desktop computers are built of elements quarried from mines that ravage the earth. We travel around the world in planes, trains and automobiles to research books decrying the melting of glaciers and the death of coral reefs. If we want to convince other people that we truly care about the planet, we’re going to have to set a better example.

  • And, finally, on an entirely different note, many thanks to the Emergency Department and inpatient-care staff at Southwest Memorial Hospital for taking good care of David during his stay there this winter with a bout of pneumonia. Everyone from the doctors to the nurses to the cafeteria’s dietitians was concerned and helpful. He’s doing well now.

Gail Binkly is editor of the Four Corners Free Press.

From Gail Binkly.