As 2021 draws nearer to its end, the lack of respect in American discourse is becoming ever more painfully obvious.

Its absence is showing up not only in Washington, D.C. It is showing up locally more than ever before and more intensely during this holiday season.

Blame it on polarized politics. Blame it on social media. Blame it on the weather. Blame it on the Earth’s orbit around the sun.

It doesn’t matter where the blame lies, the disappearance of respect is making life harder.

Local contractors know that this is the time of year when property owners with new residences or remodels want them finished. People want their home-sweet-mountain-homes to be perfect for family and friends.

Local reservationists know that December in the Sun Valley area is when crowds roll in wanting everything from a warm bed to a hot meal. This when these can be hard to get, especially at prime times.

Local retailers know that in the Age of Instant Gratification everyone wants exactly what they want, in the right size and color—and they want it yesterday.

Local restaurant hosts know that everyone wants a perfect table with perfect service—all between the hours of 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.

Lift operators know that everyone wants to catch an early chair or gondola to get at the powder stash and carve first turns in an untracked blanket of snow.

People who work in the hospitality industry want to be hospitable, but it seems to be getting harder.

The pandemic focused more attention on Sun Valley and other mountain-resort towns than ever before. While bringing more full-time residents and more visitors here, it also left businesses with shortages of staff.

Home builders and subcontractors have been overwhelmed. Safety-conscious restaurants have been short of tables. Some retailers have seen inventories limited by supply-chain problems that left cargo ships lined up for miles outside California ports waiting to be unloaded.

Frustration often boils over during holidays. Even though Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are extolled as wonderful celebrations of gratitude, unselfish giving and optimism, they sometimes turn into their polar opposites.

Angry verbal abuse aimed at other human beings may result.

People who work in mountain towns know that their business is to help make memories for others. If they didn’t like doing that, they wouldn’t live here. They know their business, they do it well and they work hard.

However, they cannot change what the pandemic has wrought. They cannot manufacture what does not exist. Heaping ire and anger upon them will not change that.

The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin said it best in 1967 when she sang “R-E-S-P-E-C-T/Find out what it means to me.”

Respect will be the most valuable gift of the 2021 holiday. Give it generously.


“Our View” represents the opinion of the newspaper editorial board, which is made up of members of its board of directors. Remarks may be directed to editorialboard@mtexpress.com.

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