Opinion | Scott M. Estill: What is wrong with our community? | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | Scott M. Estill: What is wrong with our community?

Welcome to 2022! Now that we are barely two weeks into the new year, it’s beginning to look a lot like 2021. I like to start my day be reading the e-edition of the Summit Daily News, and inevitably my attention is drawn to the letters to the editor. I have often found that the best way to gauge any particular community is to read the letters to the editor in the local paper.

And my question today is: What is wrong with our community?

While my sample size is admittedly small, a full 50% of the letters written to the editor of this paper so far this year have concerned COVID-19. More specifically, the letters are anti-mask and anti-vax. Sprinkle in a few anti-Biden letters, and the picture comes into focus. No matter the issue, the answer seems to be the same: You can’t tell me what to do. The “you” here seems to apply universally to government, businesses and individuals. No one is exempt.

But please stop framing the issue in terms of your freedom. The American men and women in our military today are not serving worldwide in order to protect anyone’s supposed freedom to disobey health regulations intended to promote a response to a lethal pandemic. Is it possible to view this from the perspective of anyone except yourself?

Perhaps it is time to stop looking vainly in the mirror and view the surroundings. Or not. COVID-19 is simply “smoke and mirrors,” one letter writer boldly asserted. Maybe, if your definition of smoke and mirrors means that advising people that 5.5 million people have died from this pandemic is somehow deceptive or otherwise intended to confuse people.

Many millions of children have lost one or more parent to COVID-19. Many of these deaths were certainly preventable. Imagine the numbers of dead had there been no guidance on the value of wearing a mask and obtaining a vaccine (or two or three). But this is not smoke and mirrors. To put the number of COVID-19 deaths into perspective, there have been about 1.2 million deaths of American troops in all wars the United States has ever fought (with about 500,000 occurring in the Civil War alone).

It is hard to imagine living in a more glorious place. Every single view around Dillon Reservoir affords a panorama of spectacular mountains, whether covered with snow or basking in the summer sunlight. There are spring flowers, farmers markets, art festivals, music at Dillon Amphitheater and too much else to list. Biking, hiking, fishing, snowshoeing, hunting, exploring, golfing and, yes, even pickleball, are right at your fingertips. Walk through Breckenridge with tourist eyes, and it is easy to understand how people from around the planet will pay over $500 per night for a room at the Double Tree. I’d advise them to skip the $23 per person breakfast at the hotel and walk a few blocks for some real treats.

There is a reason the housing market is very tight and overpriced. There is a reason employees are hard to locate and keep. (Hint: It’s expensive to live here.) There is a reason I am surprised when I get change back from my $50 bill for my lunch while I gaze at the Sun Up bowl at Vail. There is a reason skiing down to the bottom of River Run at the end of the day is like navigating an obstacle course, often with predictably uncomfortable results.

People like it here. People want to visit Summit County. People want to live in Summit County. Instead of penning your next letter complaining about the government bureaucrat, elected official and big business response to COVID-19, just step away from the keyboard for a brief moment and look outside. Or better yet, go ahead and step outside. Take a walk or ride a bike. Do something other than thinking about the unfairness of your life and having to live as a perpetual victim. Feel lucky that you are one of the 31,055 folks who live in a county that was recognized as having the longest life expectancy (86.8 years) of any county in the United States.

The souls of the 841,000 and counting American victims of the pandemic will thank you for letting them rest in peace.

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