We love inanimate, shiny things. They have value, not because they increase our wealth as people or they have any utility, but because as a rare object, we desire them to possess and own.
So you know, I would have loved to have found them. I would have gladly benefitted from the bounty. Yet, the interesting question is, whether if at the moment they were found, was there a 10 million dollar increase in the worlds wealth? Did they create value?
Today, as I do many times a year, I drove past the dry river bed of Little Cottonwood creek. The creek, just like Big Cottonwood creek, is dead. Does anyone morn their loss? Free flowing, living streams amidst our cities are getting to be a rare thing.
In a few more weeks the Jordan and Salt Lake City Canal and the East Jordan Canal will course through the valley with muddy water through dead unnatural canal beds carrying the garbage that collected there during the winter months. They once drew water from the Provo and Jordan water systems for farm land in the Salt Lake Valley. This was in a time when our Wasatch mountain creeks flowed with living waters all year long.
In as many more weeks I will drive again to watch the ever dwindling numbers of Sage Grouse at their Spring Leks where they all join together to hitch up. It’s an amazing and enthralling sight.
Tomorrow, all around the world people will kill to mine diamonds, pump for oil and dig for gold. In other places people will kill to slay rhinos and shoot elephants for their horns and tusks. They will do so for the love we have for inanimate objects that we can possess as individuals. As the death toll rises, the value of these objects, rendered inanimate, will increase in value. But, does this increase our wealth?
Even though as individuals we cannot own them, keep them in a locked box at the bank, does a lek of sage grouse add wealth to our world equal to or greater than a horde of gold coins?
If tomorrow we woke up and found our streams alive and flowing year round; if tomorrow we woke up and lived in a world where no creature was endangered with extinction because of human encroachment–if tomorrow we woke up and no one killed for gold, diamonds and oil–would the world be a richer place?
While it is a tomorrow that may not be as immediately gratifying nor as capable of rendering financial security to a few, it is a tomorrow that is immensely more enriched than a tomorrow filled with golden coins that cannot be eaten, that cannot quench one’s thirst, and cannot create life. Yet it is a tomorrow that our posterity would derive greater wealth from than all the gold coins we are minting to give them for their legacy. Then, when they die of starvation in a used-up, polluted, useless world, at least the hollow orbits of their eyes can be filled with shiny gold coins.
Loren M. Lambert © March 6, 2014