Back in my college years I went to my first Greyhound race. Today, the former Lincoln Downs is just short of being a full blown casino. In fact, I heard that they were thinking of eliminating dog races all together. Last time I drove by there the building was adorned with giant teepees which actually looked more like the sails of tall ships rather than anything else.
I never had a good feeling about the transformation of Lincoln Park to Twin River. Funny, even the name change reeks of misrepresentation. There were a lot of promises given to the citizens of our state as well as the local government of the Town of Lincoln. Many were honored and even more were not. In fact, the entire operation is constantly on the verge of bankruptcy. Sure, the taxes from the casino did pay for a beautiful middle school, but what is the actual cost of turning to income from gambling to finance the education of our children? What message are we really sending?
From the beginning I could see the costs to local businesses would be great. Income is limited in the state as well as pretty much everywhere else in the world. There is only so much money out there and when we print more of it what there is becomes worth less. So, if people are spending more money gambling they will spend less money at local restaurants, cinemas and retail stores. To me gaining income from the gambling industry made no sense at all unless somehow the state could increase its year round tourism in order to extract funds from out of state residents. After all, this is how places like Las Vegas and Atlantic City began to thrive shortly after gambling became their primary tourism booster. Yet, even that soon was not enough to draw people in. Today, Las Vegas is becoming more of an amusement part every year. The powers to be have realized the importance of bringing families into the mix and have drifted away from catering to seedy clients of day’s gone buy.
I’m afraid my principle income generating business was one of which was effected by the establishment of the Twin River Casino. Shortly after the reopening of this igniter of false hopes was setting the dreams of Rhode Islanders ablaze I began to notice a sharp decrease in my overall sales figures. Of course we did get one or two winners in over the years that were anxious to waste their winnings, but overall the majority of customers entered the store with a great big “BUT!” “I was going to buy these, but I lost all my money at the casino.” This became the most common factor in the decline of my stores sales. Even layaways became a thing of the past as many of the poorer customers would take that money weekly and invest it in what they perceived as a possible fortune waiting to be had at Twin River.
How easy it was for the leaders of the residents of Rhode Island to quickly give in to what seemed to be the answer to all their problems. It is amazing how, for political gains we can so easily put all our ethical beliefs aside in order to make those we should be leading happy with our performance. Is this how we should gain positions of leadership? I know it’s not. Imagine a general leading his troops in this way. By only taking what is perceived by them to be the easiest path, but in actuality is just a path full of false hopes and empty promises. In favoring the bandage instead of the cure our leaders have sealed our fate and signed our death certificates.
There are no easy, painless or miracle cures that come from the compromising of our moral ethics. All these quick fixes come from the worst seed. From bad seed comes bad fruit and bad fruit will only serve one purpose. It will give us all indigestion! This is what has destroyed the orchard of our society and rendered us ineffectual worldwide. We have spoken, acted and dreamed as barbarians.
No longer do we accept sacrifice for a better life tomorrow. Instead we have chosen to neglect what will guarantee us a greater future in favor of what will soften the inevitable pains of our slow demise. Today we stand without appreciation for all that we have and forfeit the joy of today for what may or may not be tomorrow. Surrounded by luxury we adamantly declare and endlessly protest that it’s not enough. We want the easy way out. The widest, flattest and smoothest path is the one we seek. In this we are just spinning our wheels and traveling to a destination which ends where we will not want to be.
We are chasing false idols. They will not make us happy in the long run. Our hunger will never be satisfied and our thirst never quenched. Satisfaction can only be achieved internally. The real dreams are all fulfilled in our hearts. These other things are just empty gestures and hollow promises. By giving into the external we fail to nurture the internal.
The goal of money for happiness is like quenching our thirst with sand. We just get thirstier.”
I remember vividly the first day I skipped class to go to Lincoln Greyhound Park. Funny thing is that the teacher whose class I skipped was there too. I guess he canceled to try his luck with the dogs. Ironically, in the light of that, it would be even more difficult to proclaim the value of gambling to support education.
Do you know why the dogs run around the track so desperately to the finish line? The truth is I did not. It looked like they were chasing something, but I could not for the life of me figure out what that was. It turns out that during their training they are made to believe that they are chasing a rabbit around the track. Although it is nothing but a false image they continually chase it time and again. They rarely catch it and even if they did would immediately realize it was not at all what they expected it to be. As a matter of fact, the finish line is not what they thought it would be either. They are stuck on a track and continually going in circles repeatedly chasing after a phony prize. After years of working as hard as they could many are put down and few are adopted, but none ever achieve what they perceived would be their reward.