How to celebrate in a predatory place

(On New Year’s Eve in a Las Vegas Casino)

How does one celebrate in a predatory place? I evidently celebrate by feeling sad. The band didn’t play Auld Lang Syne as their first song of the New Year. Unacceptable, but not why I feel sad. I feel sad because I spotted a little girl. She’s celebrating New Year’s in a casino, which feels icky to me, bordering on harmful. My being here doesn’t feel icky, however. Is there a difference?

Maybe. Perhaps it’s bad to teach a child to associate predation with celebration, while I’m old enough to make my own decisions. I chose to be here. That’s one difference. It’s not particularly strong—it doesn’t justify the existence of casinos in general, but it explains a bit of the ethical difference in my gut.

The girl and her family stepped away. A mother and her two young children arrived. One, a baby boy in a stroller surrounded by stale cigarette smoke—you should have seen his thousand-yard stare.

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