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As a new year begins, we hold out hope regarding a number of situations in Pagosa Country.
We hope for continued improvement in local economic conditions, and we note that, despite our problems, Pagosa is in relatively good shape compared to many similar communities. Doomsayers exaggerate the injury; a hill is there, but it can be climbed. The climb, however, depends in large part on conditions improving in other parts of the U.S. With the importance of tourism and second-home and retirement home construction and sales in Pagosa Country, we are unusually dependent on success experienced elsewhere.
We hope the impressive charitable impulse shown by Pagosans continues to grow and remains a signal aspect of life here. The generosity of Pagosans, their willingness to volunteer time and labor, is a credit to the community.
We hope for greater civility in terms of overall manners and in discourse concerning heated political issues.
First, and most important, in the year ahead we need to ignore the extremists among us. There is a pathological fringe that has grown out of touch with reality, so enamored of slogans and tokens of their bitterness, bias and ignorance, that they are not worth arguing with. Reason and evidence are beyond them, and they must be left behind. Greater civility, highlighted by reason and good will, is the only engine that will propel us forward.
The year ahead will feature several key issues (Reservoir Hill development and the construction of a Wal-Mart among them) and, too often, these issues elicit the worst in people. The worst will not do.
A letter from Town Tourism Committee Chair Bob Hart in this issue of The SUN illustrates the need for Pagosans to understand the difference between attacking a person and attacking ideas, the difference between citing fact and creating straw men on which to levy one’s rage. Hart notes his support for the TTC’s Reservoir Hill development plan. It is a valid position; one those of us who oppose said plan should examine and counter. The plan — not Mr. Hart, his colleagues who support the plan, or elected officials who do the same.
Neither should civil individuals presume to know what is in another’s mind and trumpet what others intend to do in the future. Such is the case with those in the community who assume Mr. Hart and his company will bid on, and benefit from, projects if a plan goes forward. Hart has made clear it will not happen. Those who insist on believing Hart is intent on profit, can now do away with the notion and deal with the Hill issue in reasonable fashion, opposing the plan, not the person.
We hope for improvements in local educational opportunities — in the local public school system and in community education. We owe it to our youngest citizens, especially, to provide them the education, discipline and skills needed to succeed in an increasingly competitive world. We owe them more than unrealistic, unrelenting congratulations, more than standing ovations for ordinary deeds. We owe them the idea that it is work and the goal of constant improvement that will benefit them —not awards and applause for each small, often ordinary step they take.
Finally, we hope for snow, and for rain come spring and summer. The weather is out of our control, but treating one another with respect, giving aid to our neighbors and tending to the best interests of our children —even when it involves demands rather than rewards —are within our abilities, and we hope we can work together to bring them about.