Home Opinion and Features Make-believe can make you look stupid

Make-believe can make you look stupid

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OPINION: It is a concern when wrongdoing is overlooked because that could result in more and more people coming to believe that those wrong things are acceptable, and following suit, writes Lance Fredericks.

THE TRICKS our parents used to get us to do menial chores … sigh!

At one time I thought, no … I actually believed that it was acceptable, even downright sexy, to wear a row of pegs across the front of my shirt, lined up across my chest. I believed that it was the coolest thing this side of the Wild West.

Why? Because in my imagination I was Kit Carson, frontier hero.

My mother, who probably enjoyed having a dimwit handing pegs to her as she hung up the washing, encouraged me, telling me how authentic it looked.

Look, in my defence, Christopher Houston ‘Kit’ Carson was a bona fide American frontiersman. Carson was a fur trapper, wilderness guide, Indian agent, and a US Army officer. Over time, through biographies, news stories, and dime novels that embellished on his exploits, Carson rose to fame as a frontier legend during his lifetime.

He was so famous that even over in Kimberley, just over 100 years after his death, he had a die-hard fan with a row of pegs proudly displayed across his chest. Of course, today I wonder how a row of wooden pegs can look like a buckskin fringe.

But it’s too late now. The neighbourhood girls had already decided that my only ambition in life was to become a washing line. No wonder I wasn’t one of the popular boys.

This just goes to prove that even if you believe with all your heart that you are doing the right thing and looking impressive you could be making a total fool of yourself and looking like a total tool.

I admit that believing that wooden pegs looked anything like a buckskin fringe was pretty stupid. Maybe more or less as stupid as allowing artisanal miners free reign to leave a city pockmarked in their search for those elusive gems. From what I can see, all you need is some digging tools, a sieve and a few buckets and you are welcome to stake a claim anywhere in Kimberley, free from any consequences.

One is almost compelled to ask: In Kimberley, is it acceptable to just dig a hole and sift soil anywhere you please? Are there no city ordinances? Do we have no rules to govern such actions? Is it just a free for all? Are we back to the days of the Diamond Rush? Do our city ordinances and laws need to be rewritten to accommodate our ‘guests’?

I often wonder, is there, in our city, a distinct line between what’s acceptable and what’s unacceptable? And are there no consequences for wrongdoing?

When I was growing up, urinating on the street used to be frowned upon. It happened, but you didn’t want to be caught. You could be fined. But these days – even in the city itself – if people feel the need to go, there’s nothing preventing an informal toilet break.

Also when I was younger, into my college years and beyond, drinking alcohol on the street was just not done. Even walking with alcohol bottles that were not in a paper bag was illegal. These days youngsters walk around all over the city carrying and drinking from alcohol bottles, as if it’s OK to do that.

It bothers me too that we have a workforce more focused on their rights and benefits than on doing a decent job. Oh, they will tell you it’s cool because they have powerful unions backing them and protecting them to ensure that they don’t exert themselves too much.

The problem with that is that at this point in time our city needs a lot of exertion. A whole lot!

It is a concern when wrongdoing is overlooked because that could result in more and more people coming to believe that those wrong things are acceptable, and following suit.

I mean, how can it be any type of solution to suggest that the residents of Kimberley should stay away from crime hot spots in order to be safe?

Is it really the best thing to tell residents in dangerous neighbourhoods to ensure that they are indoors after sunset to ensure that they don’t become victims of crime?

I am only asking because if it is a solution, if it’s OK, if that is acceptable and the best that can be done, then we have to ask, what message is this sending to the criminal element? I often wonder: are we afraid of upsetting or offending criminals, hoodlums and perpetrators?

Are the criminals being told, “Carry on, you are doing fine. If you hurt or rob or kill someone they were warned to take care; it’s their own fault.”?

We could also ask, what message is being broadcast to those who, by their neglect and shoddy workmanship, are causing our city to fall apart? Is the message to them, “Carry on, we are proud of you. We are glad you are raking in a salary for simply having a job, whether you do that job or not.”?

What I am suggesting is that if some good, positive, progressive things are not done to run our town properly, then sooner, rather than later, we will be overwhelmed by the bad things happening in this city.

In fact, to illustrate this, there’s a story of an army officer, somewhat of a hero-worshipper of Kit Carson, who, upon meeting his hero, exclaimed effusively: “So this is the great Kit Carson, who has made so many Indians run!”

“Yes,” drawled Carson, “sometimes I run after them but most times they were runnin’ after me.”

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