Opinion | Bruce Butler: A call to positive action

A lot has happened in the past two weeks. President Joe Biden has set a competitive marker for the most tragically incompetent military/diplomatic blunder of the 21st century with his botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, which now has more U.S. troops in a more vulnerable position than one month ago and has left the U.S. damaged and diminished in the international community. Children have returned to school amid the turmoil of the COVID-19 delta variant, mask mandates and division over critical race theory. My wife and I became empty nesters, and I’m in the process of a career change. In short, the past two weeks have been a time of personal introspection and reflection for me.

The other day, I drove into Summit Cove. It caught my attention how many people were walking alone along the side of the road wearing masks outdoors in complete isolation. This seemed to be a metaphor for so much of the fear, uncertainty, negativity, sadness, depression and frustration that seems to be gripping our country and our community. I feel it around me, and I’m sure you do, too.

At some point, our country will recover from the Afghanistan exit debacle. At some point, people will say “enough is enough” with the COVID-19 hysteria and mandates. The genie is out of the bottle. We will have COVID-19 variants until the end of time! The only question is will we have a fraternity row of variants before we end the specter of economic shutdowns and mask mandates? Of course, with any major life changes comes new opportunity, and so, too, will that happen for my wife and me.

Two of the qualities I like most about Summit County are the generosity and genuine sense of caring that are hallmarks of our community. I have always appreciated the town cleanup day, an annual event typically held the third Saturday in May. It is great to have so many turn out to clean up what emerges from the melting snow each spring. It has made me proud to live in a community that still cares. You can see the litter and filth that overtakes the cities and towns that have ceased to care. Unfortunately, with COVID-19, the town cleanup day has been an informal, self-directed event the past two years, and it shows.

For many years, we had Make a Difference Day in the fall. While the event ran its course, in recent years there have been some attempts to resurrect it on a more limited scale. While it may be too late for 2021, it is time to bring back Make a Difference Day with so many in our community seeking renewed engagement and purpose.

The purpose of my column this week is to call Summit County residents to positive action over the next month. Take a trash bag along with you on one of your dog walks this week and help clean up the neighborhood. If you fish, clean up a small stretch of river. If you hike, pack out a little extra trash. Consider joining one of the county’s many outstanding philanthropic organizations like the Rotary Club of Summit County, the Summit Lake Dillon Optimist Club or the Summit County Elks Lodge.

If you are feeling uncertain about your own security and situation, please talk to a health professional, reach out to our local clergy or attend a church service. If walking into a church building is too intimidating, attend the 9:30 a.m. service at Dillon Amphitheater one or both of the next two Sundays. If you are struggling with mental or emotional health challenges, please reach out to Building Hope Summit County for help and assistance. Asking for help is a positive thing!

The three-day Labor Day holiday weekend is fast approaching. Have fun! Set aside some time to get together with your friends and neighbors. Ask how they are doing. Do something special with your kids. They will be gone before you know it. Show a little more generosity to the wait staff who are working while you are enjoying an extra day off. Above all, don’t stop caring and commit to making our community stronger, healthier and better.

Bruce Butler

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