I am not mad, I am just disappointed. With parental concern, I have paid keen attention to the wrangling over the Town of Vail’s latest land use decision. I am embarrassed for my proverbial kin, those who populate this special place that I call home. I could only shake my head as the discourse around that vote devolved into childish name-calling, selfish logic, and an adolescent’s remove from reality. Espousing civility and empathy from this small pulpit over the past seven years, I was hopeful that those lessons would be absorbed by my larger Vail Valley family. Like the father of a kid throwing a tantrum in a restaurant, I consider the abject misbehavior a personal failing.
Booth Heights is the latest, but not the last, battleground over the future of the Vail Valley. The factions that warred over this parcel will face each other again, locked together just as tightly as those bound by the vows of marriage. A repeat of the latest skirmish is intolerable to a community that should be dedicated to cooperation, compassion, and mutual respect. We have a common purpose and a collective desire to raise this once tiny mountain hamlet into the mature locality that it will one day become. If the parents are constantly bickering through this process of growth, the offspring will surely suffer.
Out of the quagmire springs hope. The vitriol spewed by both sides of the quarrel is evidence of deep-seated passion. This superheated emotion can be put to beneficial use. Anger is only a tick away from love; frustration is a close cousin of commiseration. A step back, a look around, a deep breath and all can be reset to a course that recognizes the large common ground between the extreme positions currently taken.
To reach this hallowed shared perspective, we must acknowledge the validity of opposing viewpoints. We must accept the inevitability of change, the inexorable march of growth, the impossibility of perfectly reconciling the needs of the animals with those of the people that live and work in the Valley. Having created an idyll to which we all decided to move, we cannot be surprised that others have the same impetus. It is not reasonable to attempt to create a living museum to an idealized vision of some arbitrary point in history. Children must grow up.
While we cannot be overbearing parents, nor can we be too lenient. There must be rational limits on our use of these precious lands, lest the pressures and temptations of development and capital lead our community down a dark path. We must preserve some mementos of the past, those features that represent the essential character of the Vail Valley, whether they be natural or anthropological. We must respect the traditions, wisdom, and interests of those that came before us. These are not necessarily our elders; newcomers are as likely to be of retirement age as recently graduated. Those that have already made their living cannot prevent others from trying to do the same, while those in the workforce need to understand that life is more than just their next shift, their next paycheck.
Parents have a tendency to hypocrisy, to wanting their children to do as they say and not as they have done. We must embrace our foibles, be transparent about our intentions, and put our energies into repairing the relationship with our co-parents. Only in this way can we raise this community in harmony and into a Valley of which we can continue to be proud.