Amy Roberts: Sometimes correlation and causation are linked
One of my favorite things about living in Park City is how easy it is to get people to visit. Time of year, length of stay, how many people need a bed — none of it matters. My friends, and their friends, are always thrilled to spend time here. They come for Sundance, or to ski. They need time in nature, or away from their kids. Some have weeks to explore, others just want to kill a long layover.
I’m always happy to take in a traveling orphan. Sometimes it’s a dear friend, other times it’s someone I randomly met ages ago in a far-off place. We stayed at the same lodge or partnered up during an excursion or shared a meal; social media kept us connected and they’re ready to cash in on the promise they can “visit anytime.” More than once I’ve offered up a spare bedroom to a friend of a friend, knowing these types of favors are always returned. You just never know when that pullout sofa in the Pyrenees might come in handy.
This is how it works in my world — an Airbnb that operates solely on trade.
So last month when a British friend I met in Spain five years ago emailed me to announce his brother would be in Utah soon, and might I meet him for a drink, it naturally evolved into plans to spend the weekend in Park City, rather than a hotel near the airport.
Whenever I spend time in America with people who are not American, my favorite question to ask them is, “What surprises you the most about the U.S.?”
Our gun obsession, the massive size of everything, and the number of commercials for prescription medications are consistently among the top three answers, and usually in that order. My friend’s brother predictably responded to my question, ticking off some variation of these points. But in all the years I’ve posed this question, this was the first time I realized a common theme in the typical replies: We seem unable or unwilling to treat anything more than symptoms.
We are obsessed with guns because we refuse to address the root cause of why we think we need them. An entire lobbying industry has convinced us we are walking targets just waiting to be plucked from the living unless we’re packing heat. To sell more guns, the NRA has carefully crafted a paranoid narrative to suggest we are always on the brink of an armed revolution against the government. Gun sales rise after mass shootings because we’re told the only plausible solution to mass shootings is more guns. Which makes about as much sense as saying the only way to cure lung cancer is with more cigarettes. We pacify the symptoms because we refuse to admit the real problem: We are delusional. An abundance of assault rifles, ammunition, and stupidly easy access to both do not make us safer. But admitting that is a mind-screw, and so we treat our fear-filled symptoms with more guns instead of treating the root cause of why we think we need them.
When it comes to size, Americans know how to buy and build and live large. Our homes, our cars, our bodies — everything about us is wildly disproportionate to actual need. Whether it’s wasteful or boastful consumerism, it ultimately boils down to ego. We have blurred the line between net worth and self-worth and having the most, the best, or the biggest is how we find our value. Instead of a cure for our low self-esteem, we treat our symptoms with more stuff.
And then there’s the idea that those among us who have never gone to medical school have every right to badger our doctor for the prescription of our choice. We see a commercial on TV featuring a guy who claims to have the same aches as we do. We watch as he swallows a pill and by the end of the spot he’s having the time of his life bowling. The whole thing leads us to assume an impressively high level of biochemical familiarity and the right to decide which medications are best for us. We want a pill to treat our symptoms but have no interest in finding out what is actually causing us the pain that prevents us from bowling bliss.
It’s all a bit odd when you think about it. We could be so much healthier, happier – and not as shot – if we were a little more willing to examine the source rather than treat the symptom.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.