Letters, Dec. 16-18: More rudeness? It’s often a problem of perception.
A problem of perception
The Dec. 9-11 Park Record ran a perspective piece by Christa Worthy titled, “We’ve been living with too much rudeness.” I propose an edit: “We’ve been PERCEIVING too much rudeness.”
The writer bemoans that, since moving from southern California to the mountains, manners have become “sorely lacking.” Her evidence? Rolling coal. Whenever “someone” in a diesel pickup pulls up next to her small car, the writer broods, “What drives his aggression and gives him pleasure about harming me?” She explicitly assumes that any stranger with a diesel pickup is aggressive and sadistic. Those are ludicrously illogical leaps.
Very often, the root of “rudeness” lies more in the perceiver than the sender, a fault in interpretation rather than intent. Self-absorbed, we tend to perceive offense where none was meant, and that misperception impels rash reaction.
Underlying this tendency is a pervasive self-centeredness, one cultivated by society in many ways. Want to hear only agreeable politics? There’s a channel for that. Want to see only affirming headlines? There’s an app for that. Want to associate with only likeminded people? There’s a chatroom for that. We isolate, we polarize, and civil dialogue ends. “Different” becomes “deviant”.
To what degree are we each complicit in perpetuating societal “rudeness,” not through intentional offense but intolerant interpretation?
A timely case in point: In the coming weeks, you and I may pass on Main Street, and I’ll likely, spontaneously, wish you a “Merry Christmas.” I’m simply, sincerely, from my own white-middle-class-Christian-mom perspective, wishing you well. If you take offense to that, it’s your issue, not mine. But, if you return a “Happy Chanukah”? Thank you. We will smile and laugh and delight in our small, wonderfully patchworked town.
Park City is growingly diverse, a mix of long-time locals, visitors and recent transplants. But diversity doesn’t work unless we both exercise reasonable sensitivity AND interpret others’ actions with generosity. This winter, someone will idle a car to keep a baby warm, someone will play music too loud, someone will poach a line, someone will drive too fast and someone else too slow. When perceiving that persecution, let’s pause a moment and more closely examine the offense:
Aligned with social norms unlike your own? Likely.
Aggressive? Probably not.
Sadistic? Just. No.
Spread is no surprise
Regarding the Park Record Dec. 9-11 front-page article about the rising incidence of COVID-19 in Summit County, is there an element of “eyes wide shut?” With spotty compliance monitoring of mask wearing and categorical mask waivers granted by the Summit County Board of Health, why would we not expect health consequences? Add to that ill-fitting masks, masks worn below the nose and various other excused behaviors, it should come as no surprise that the virus is spreading.
Reserve some sleep
Vail Resorts has rolled out a reservation system for Park City Mountain Resort that is designed to limit crowds to be able to safely operate during this pandemic season. Overall it’s a great idea and is needed. I even think it could be great after the pandemic is over to protect the skier experience. Deer Valley has been limiting capacity for years, providing a great ski experience even on weekends, holidays and powder days.
As adjustments continue to be made to the reservation system, the most recent change does not benefit the health of the community: Opening up reservations each night at midnight is surely causing lots of lost sleep in our community. Healthy habits, staying clean, sanitary and getting plenty of sleep are all keys to staying healthy during this pandemic. I urge the leadership at Vail Resorts to reconsider the time they release the reservations to a more reasonable hour which will not impact the health of our community.
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