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Bear column: We all want what’s best for America

Most people have a love-hate relationship with their hometown.

I grew up in Greeley, which if you’re from the state of Colorado is the punchline to a thousand worst-town jokes. Most of those jokes center on the odor that emanates from the plethora of cattle feedlots 5 miles east near Kersey, but some days it settles heavily on Greeley.

The truth is that to the residents of Greeley, the odor is hardly noticeable. For visitors, though, it’s like entering the home of someone who has indoor pets or babies, the odor is obvious to everyone except the people who live there.

But Greeley wasn’t a bad place for my friends and I to grow up. As kids we played every sport and a few others we made up, built forts both in trees and underground, and rode our bikes from one end of town to the other.

As young adults we hung out in the college bars that had good music, beer, and lots of college girls. We had great record and music stores, and popular recreational sports leagues.

Jobs weren’t hard to obtain. I worked in restaurants, and in the construction and manufacturing industries, biding my time until I decided what I really wanted to do with my life.

I ended up leaving Greeley for school and higher-paying job opportunities, but most of my family stayed and made a good life there.

I loved my hometown for all the reasons listed above, but I hated it for other reasons — chief among them was the urban sprawl that has become one of the inevitabilities of our expanding world. New people moved in that didn’t have the same reverence for the place that we did. They built homes, stores and shopping malls in the fields where we used to play, homogenizing the landscape to the point where the true character of the place, or at least our perception of it, was lost forever.

The same thing has happened all across America over the past few decades. And it is feeding the love-hate relationship that most Americans have for this country.

We all love our homes, our friends, and our sports teams, pop culture, hobbies, food, music, and public lands.

But we’re also seeing changes that we don’t like.

New people are moving in, bringing their own cultures and traditions, and weaving those into the fabric of our communities. We can either accept that, embrace it, or fight it. But if history has proven anything, fighting change is a losing battle. Our energy is better spent fighting for the changes we wish to see.

In recent years I’ve heard some Americans accusing other Americans of hating America, which is absurd. Usually the barbs are aimed at anyone who protests what they see as an injustice.

We are seeing those accusations hurled at Black Lives Matter protesters everywhere since the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Forget the looters and vandals, the vast majority of whom are the same opportunists who come out of hiding every year in the cities of teams who win the World Series or Super Bowl, because it’s easy for them to blend in with the revelers.

BLM protesters don’t hate America. They love America so much that they want every American to have the same opportunities they do to thrive here.

But misunderstanding is the cross we bear as a nation.

This past Friday’s Juneteenth march in Rifle was a perfect example of two opposing groups misunderstanding each other’s intentions.

Rifle Police Chief Tommy Klein said, “Misinformation, rumors, and assumptions unfortunately took hold and caused some unnecessary friction. It was my impression that both sides were supportive of our agency — this message was lost.”

If both sides supported the police, then why was there a conflict?

Standing up for what you believe in is, and has always been, the right thing to do. But listening to those who oppose you is just as important, because you just might find that you agree more than you disagree.

I think that we all love America so much that we want it to look like the America we imagine. Obviously, that’s different for everyone. I know that the Greeley of my youth will never return, and the fact is that it was probably never as wonderful as my youthful naivety led me to believe.

But to tell another American that they hate America because their vision for the nation is different from yours makes no sense.

We all just want what’s best for America.

Jeff Bear is a reporter and copy editor for the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. You may reach him at jbear@postindependent.com


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