Plato in the Mountains, It's All Greed to Me is suspense thriller by Ursula Tillmann.
We can easily forgive a child
who is afraid of the dark. The
real tragedy in life is, when
men are afraid of the light
PLATO (428-348 BC)
They think I know something. Not that I have given them any answers, but questions, lots of riddles. I can feel their eyes scanning my face for invisible expressions now that I have returned. Not by choice, only necessity. The locals are looking and searching in guesswork, chipping away and digging. What for? They cannot explain. But waiting, always waiting and hoping for revelations one way or another.
I am still not winter-proofed, aching under the weight of snow with icicles, frost-biting my stiff joints of late years. There are moments, I wonder distressed, how I got here again, so far up north, distant from blooming ambitions of yesteryears. The white blinds my foresight at times, but mostly it clouds my memories. Recollections are frozen in those valleys beyond mountain peaks. Don't misunderstand, in the summer it is paradise.
However, the winters make it a forsaken place where dreams get caved. Even above the ground.
That valley ages you twice the speed of existence, now that the root of all evil has put its claws around the edges once again. The false promises, the greedy ambitions, the pretence of do-gooders. It's all there. Beneath them the coal mines, above peasant's assumptions who think they are sitting on gold mines because the land, they are told, is now rare and worth millions.
Oh yes, the true explorers are long gone; those who surveyed the land for the railroad. Individuals who build not simply for themselves but for the common good of the whole province and country.
But now, after the coal mines closed, new breeds of exploiters have come. They wear expensive suits and empty faces. They are from the cities across the nation and even from south of the border to prey upon the ignorance of small town folks.
What about the people in the mountain valley? Gone are the days of hiding dirty fingernails and turning away dusty faces with sunken eyes from strangers. Old folks cannot forget, while their children choose to have no memory. But the mines are closed, bolted up with heavy wooden posts and secured with several padlocks at every entrance leading into the underground. Bureaucrats want to bar out citizens.
Do officials truly believe anybody desires to submerge into that darkness of their own volition, once they have seen the light?
Nobody is digging in these mountains for coal any longer. Developers propose a better future above the mines. They insert the pick beneath the dignity of locals who cannot afford to reject lucrative offers.
Who cares about scratches and scars when human greed can be unearthed?
Exploitation is packaged as progress. Naturally for the good of the next generation. So they say. And the arguments are convincing because most people are nae. They are like clueless children when their minds are put in chains with shackles, decorating feet like garlands. Lucky for the exploiters who only need to answer one question: How deep will they have to dig before they scoop up the price people can be bought for?
Developers have experience. Twenty years ago, more than a decade after the mines first closed, a hike in land prices hit the valley. Now once again vultures are circling the eastside of Calder's tranquil valley. Crews of enthusiastic loggers carry chainsaws to clear large parcels of forest and particles of human virtue. They are chopping down healthy timber not infested with pine tree beetle; forest which carpets the valley below ridges of wildlife habitat corridors.
It has to be done quickly because exploiters want to build their personal wealth. Their accomplices are those who can be bought for certain amounts of money. Among them are realtors, bureaucrats, politicians and some local folks.
Everybody can profit, every person will get rich. So they promise, while leaving only crumbs for most believers in fairy tales.
Perhaps many, who don't object and rather stay silent, are afraid of the light, because it may somehow illuminate their habituated reasoning of complacency.
Enlightenment is dangerous. It usually unveils the unblemished truth buried within. No one seriously wants to know or see the truth when so much money is at stake; when even the poor can get rich. Greed is good, they are told. It is advancement. Chopping down trees is superior to nestling on trees.
And more blah, blah, blah is funneled down people throats and minds until currency intoxication knocks them out cold.
In light of those particulars I dare not leave people in the dark. I grew up in that valley. I need to revisit the sites. To see for myself and find what is hidden.
Although I realize that the departure into the unknown is always tricky. Even more unpredictable and painful is the return to once familiar places and faces.