The price of coffee, hockey tickets….and gates?

When you spend a lot of time driving in South Florida, chances are you’ll see a variety of gated communities. I’ve been in that position – or seat – every year since 1976. In 40 years, I feel I’ve seen them all. On recent drives, though, I’ve started to see things differently. The gates look more extravagant and elaborate than I can ever recall.  As I gawk at them – little Bellagios or Caesars Palace – my mind has begun to conjure up vivid images of the poor – especially the dispossessed and desperate in countries or communities we usually call Third World or in development. And I have to assign blame to an octogenarian Egyptian priest and YouTuber, Henri Boulad, whose videos are watched around the world by French speaking dreamers like myself.

In a video from 2016, Boulad suggests that peace, so elusive in his region, will never be achieved so long as powerful societies such as ours continue to consume and waste so much of the wealth of the planet on ourselves. When I drive past this new generation of gates, his words weigh heavy on my conscience.

“Gated communities have gone from simple gates to elaborate fences and now extravagant entrances reminiscent of Vegas’ best hotels. On many levels, they’re an indication things are not well in our world.”

This extravagant evolution in the gates of gated communities is present in most other areas of our own lives. We see the same trend in the cost of entry to major sporting events, concerts and even in our sacred North American fine dining and coffee culture. There’s a common theme: we’ve found nifty ways to justify spending more of our cash on ourselves. Some of us will blame marketers. Some will blame a broken world, families or values system.

Next time you sip a $5 coffee drink, down $200 on a corporate dinner, spend a small fortune on attending an NHL game or drive by a gated community, give it some thought. I have a feeling you’ll be compelled to. And if you lay blame on someone, just don’t blame the priest. The solution starts within each one of us.

If you speak or understand French, take a listen to Fr. Boulad for bits of wisdom and knowledge: