Development will make the Grand Canyon not so grand

Two invasive development plans loom heavy over the Grand Canyon. They are the first in a while to disrupt the peace and prosperity of one of the country’s largest wonders.

The projects, one which includes a tram that dips tourists in the bottom of the canyon and one which involves a plan for a couple thousand houses and a huge shopping mall, are scheduled to materialize as early as next year.

As the plans threaten to ruin one of the nation’s most beautiful sites, panic-stricken activists do all they can to protect Arizona’s special gem, seemingly to no avail. Tragedy falls short of what will actually become of the canyon if plans are finalized and the projects are realized.

And yet, development will quickly be underway in the small and scantily inhabited village of Tusayan as soon as paperwork is signed and permits are validated. As though getting permission to build inside the Grand Canyon was a small feat.

Apparently it is. And apparently the words “National Park,” “grand” and “sacred” carry less weight than they used to. Perhaps if developers and politicians would come out from behind their desks to actually look at the canyon, they would cancel their plans and wonder what they were ever thinking in the first place.

But it is even too idealistic to assume that the developers who have seen the landmark were mystified by the beauty and depth of the canyon; rather they saw the vast amount of potential money to be made.

Those sly builders even have an altruistic premise for their plans: economic prosperity for the people in the area who have next to nothing. As the developers have tried to sell it, their big plan is a win-win for everyone involved.

As lovely as the phrase “economic prosperity” sounds, the real meaning is lost on the Navajo people who are selling their land under the illusion that they will actually benefit. At the end of the day, the developers are cashing in on the naïveté of the locals who don’t see that they have much of a choice.

As per American tradition, we have no qualms about taking advantage of the natives who are trying to survive on what little we have left them, and the desecration of the Grand Canyon goes virtually unchallenged.

Even the jobs that will be created with the destruction of the Grand Canyon will be ironically unimportant compared to the majesty of the landmark. It is unlikely that any locals working there will make any more than $40,000 a year, pocket change compared to the immense wealth they originally owned and would have kept if they had just let the canyon be.

If we can allow for the destruction of a landmark that has been thousands of years in the making just to allow a few thousand people a few thousand menial jobs as maids and waitresses, then we are truly a destitute nation.

In a thousand years when we are long gone — the planes eroded, our great buildings buried in dust — the canyon will still be there, deep and unbending. People will stand in awe and stare, as half our generation might have, into that wandering winding chasm, measureless to man. And they will remember their micro-existence in this world, and walk on.