EDITORIAL: Means and Ends

Rossland Telegraph
By Rossland Telegraph
July 23rd, 2009

 Two weeks ago in this space we wrote about the difference between two places that we like to think of as Real Rossland and Dream Rossland. Last week we wrote about what sorts of priorities might help make Rossland a better place to live. This week, we’d like to round out our summertime meditations on the Mountain Kingdom’s Kootenay karma with a few reflections on means and ends.

There are two types of people in this world: those who focus primarily on means (on the process of doing something) and those who focus on ends (the final, desired result). Returning to last week’s discussion about fees at the Miners’ Hall, we’d like to suggest that the proposed changes were end-focussed. That is to say, proponents of dramatically-increased usage charges were focussed on the ends they envisioned: swollen coffers and complete ‘cost recovery’ (read aloud in Dalek voice). The cost to local groups didn’t factor into their thinking so much.

In this situation, ‘ends’ equates roughly withour idea of ‘Dream Rossland’. Those who want to see a large ski resort sprout on the side of Red Mountain tend to focus on ends: if (as must happen in such an event) real estate prices skyrocket and drive younger and/or poorer families from town, that’s collatoral damage and must (with appropriate expressions of regret) be accepted.

Those who favoured keeping the Miners’ Hal costs reasonable believe in a ‘means’ approach to the issue: they see that the means by which we treat local groups need to be fair. The ‘end’ of cost recovery isn’t so important in their minds.

This isn’t to say that ‘means’ people wouldn’t like to see prosperity come to town for an extended stay (and not just a weekend junket) as much as ends people – it’s more to say that ‘means’ people won’t accept attainment of a goal at any cost. If we look at the world around us today, all our biggest problems are the result of ‘ends’ thinking: we want the ‘ends’ of televisions and air conditioning: hello pollution. We want easy credit and inexpensive toys: hello third world exploitation and economic collapse.

While ends communities go around demanding this or that result no matter what the human cost, means communities take each step carefully, with ethics and morals always front and centre in their minds. We think that Rossland, at heart, is a means community.

Again, it’s not an either/or scenario: by taking caring, measured steps, we can still arrive at a desired end. That said, the difference between this approach and one that focusses solely on ends is massive: if we are proud of each decision we make, each step we take, then whether we succeed ultimately or not won’t matter: the journey will have been worth it.

For those who aim solely for the big score, there are two frightening possibilities: A) that they get what they want but leave such a big mess in their wake that they discover the payoff wasn’t worth the cost and B) that they don’t get what they want and are left with the mess anyway.

Rossland has a hundred year track record of being a great place to live and play, even though it’s never yet been a big ‘success’. As we move forward through tough times, we need to see the huge value of that record and use it to make smart decisions that will allow our children and grandchildren access to the same quality of life we’ve been lucky enough to enjoy so far.

Categories: Op/Ed

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