MEEKER | While living in Meeker away from the crowds appeals to most long- term residents for a wide variety of reasons, one of the most frequently cited is safety. The events of this past year have threatened that sense of security. While on the surface, the rancorous disagreements between the County Commissioners and some of their former employees has cracked a wide-open wedge between residents. Now the rift is widening.
Interviewing new county residents over the years, I often asked about the appeal of living somewhere they feel safe. While most cited the low crime rate, some cited their appreciation for the neighborliness shown in many different ways. The long year behind us has taken a toll on some of that feeling of security.
It is the state-mandated shutdown of the community businesses, as well the social distancing and resulting isolation for most county residents that fuels the vitriol that continues to cause fireworks for most discussion about the issues that we all face. Some governmental officials appear to have chosen sides and the rudeness displayed in many public settings, as well as on social media, is only increasing. The worsening paranoia funnels into the air and leaves us with a toxic local atmosphere. We continue to be warned about not keeping our masks on and allowing more people into our businesses or public gatherings.
The hardest thing for me is seeing the effect the divisiveness has on children. So many adults believe that some children among us are not aware of this divide. Unless adults spend time with children, they often miss the clues that reveal that they know so much more. Developmental milestones are reached as they age, but much of their socialization skills are taught by both their teachers and parents. They express their feelings in so many different ways; both verbal and non-verbal. Leaving classmates out of the group on the playground or teasing other kids in the classroom are only a few of the common actions most adults try to change by becoming role models to the children. Role models are getting harder to find these days.
Talking with a friend about the political divisions that are ever-present these days, I realized the neighborliness that so many people mentioned as an asset seems to be fading away. That surprises me, as I still find that when someone is in trouble and needs help, most people are more than willing to be a good neighbor. It could be that it has changed somehow. People aren’t willing to lend a hand if themselves if their motives or intentions are questioned. As the community opens up successfully this summer, it will be helpful if all of us find a way to resolve our differences. Feeling comfortable and safe is essential for cooperating with each other and moving forward.
By DOLLY VISCARDI – Special to the Herald Times