Scott Bayens: Thanks is not enough
Something clicked for me this week as I watched the latest episode of “The Morning Show” on Apple TV. It chronicled the beginnings of the pandemic in Manhattan in early 2020. Lockdown was yet to occur but hospitals were filling up and the gravity of the situation was quickly coming into focus.
It stirred up my own recollections from that time; many memories I’d either pushed away or had simply forgotten. It’s understandable most of us don’t want to look back and re-live that fear and panic again; we’ve got to move forward. But it made me think; what if anything did we learn or takeaway? Did we work to discover the lessons of our collective experience?
Yes, there were those that took the opportunity to leave or change jobs. Yes, during lockdown we were forced to slow down, embrace simpler things, and be grateful with less. And we saw the greatest migration since the wagon trains as record numbers left cities for places like ours.
But less than three months later, just as the U.S. suffered its 100,000 death, what I call the great denial began. And I’m not referring to the denial of the virus, masks or eventually the vaccine itself. I’m talking about the dismissal of the profound disruption it all caused; to our health, to our safety, and future certainty. Again, looking back is not really in our nature.
Many I know wished the crisis could have prompted a more seminal human moment; a cathartic game changer; and a shift to something greater. I’m not arguing our recovery should have been postponed to find greater meaning, but I can’t help think we missed something fundamental. But before we could contemplate that, stocks ticked back up, business reopened and real estate sales hit the stratosphere. In the blink of any eye we were “back to normal”!
My guess is that’s what more fortunate Americans gave thanks for around the table last Thursday. Prosperity and good fortune. Thank the Lord it’s all over! As a Christian (a flawed one at that), and at risk of coming off as holier-than-thou, I would suggest in this time and this year, just giving thanks is not enough.
Here in our valley, we have been reminded COVID remains deadly and can strike those who claim immunity. We’ve recently lost four long-time locals; ranging in age from their late-30s to early-70s. Those men are now absent from a local school, a barber shop, a hockey rink and our hardware store. And now those who may have been misinformed, manipulated or proselytized are in need of our prayers and support.
And yet there are those who continue to dismiss the need for masks, vaccines and contact tracing. Three weeks ago when a local school was inundated with disease, it was not administrators but anonymous tips that prompted the county to take action. Recently the owner of a high-volume business suddenly canceled appointments with no explanation or so much as a heads up to clients that may have been exposed after a COVID outbreak there.
I can’t help but wonder if this irresponsible behavior is related to shame or guilt after believing this is all a hoax. Shouldn’t we be looking out for our neighbors and co-workers? As I recall, that’s one of the things they teach in Sunday school. Romans 12:10 says, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
This selfish and dismissive behavior has real world consequences. When one of us dies it can eliminate a family’s sole source of income. And let’s not forget when a parent or a child gets sick, even if its asymptomatic, there’s significant economic and social impact as parents who work must be home to care for children who can’t go to school.
And now we see increased need for donations as rising food and gas prices, and the cost of housing take hold in the aftermath of all this “prosperity.” It’s convenient to forget the working class folks that keep our glitzy, world-class resort up and running. And if they can’t afford to make a living here, make no mistake, the impact reverberates from that double-wide trailer 60 miles down the road to the top of Red Mountain.
Those of us in the business of real estate and so many more with means must begin to focus on the housing needs of our essential workers. Specifically relaxing zoning and infill requirements, incentivizing investors and developers, utilizing state and federal housing credits, and simply paying attention to our fellow man.
Because many of here us are living in abundance, we simply can’t continue to ignore the aftereffects of a disaster we’d like to forget. Gathering around a table of food with family and friends just won’t cut it this year. This season, our deeds and action should be our clarion call.
Scott Bayens (GRI, ABR, CNE) is a Realtor with Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty. Learn more about him and view current listings at http://www.aspendreamhome.com.
“2023 predicted to be the Vintage of a Lifetime in Napa Valley,” proclaimed the headline this week in a press release sent out by the Napa Valley Vintners, the trade organization that represents the growers and producers in America’s most famed wine region. If there is anyone more optimistic than winemakers, it is the group that represents them.