Eliminate “us” and “them” | Guest column
by Brad Brown
I live on Orcas. I moved here six years ago. I have a vacation rental and am worried that I will have to relocate again because I cannot pay the mortgage on my house without the income I get from this RV chalet.
I am 71 years old and have moved more than 30 times in my life. I do not want anymore.
I understand the motive behind the effort to ban vacation rentals – but make no mistake, those who oppose RVs eventually want to take them all out, even though some of those opponents are putting their own homes down on their own. the disposal of foreign books’ and illegally. What is at stake for them is the nuisance factor: sight, sound, movement. Too many people. And that’s why their effort is so appealing.
Who among us who live on the islands hasn’t had to wait a little longer at a stop sign, eagerly looking for parking, queuing at the grocery store longer than usual, joining the hordes outside our favorite restaurant? Just the scene of so many people in “our” streets; and those damn cyclists? These “others” are painful, if you ask the opposition. Let’s go back to a moment in our idyllic past before all of “them”… but just after the opponents arrived here.
It’s the classic us-them spirit.
We don’t want it because. They are a nuisance. They don’t look good or think the same or don’t act appropriately. They are not from our tribe.
I am a Christian and the parable of the Good Samaritan is important to me. I try to live my life in love and acceptance. I have worked with, for and in service support programs for over 40 years: rape crisis; prevention of sexual assault; prevention of child abuse; suicide prevention; homeless shelters; rehab; help to immigrants; citizenship training; resumption of adult education.
These “others” are often not who we are – on the outside. They are foreign and somewhat disreputable. We go across the street.
That’s when I approach them, while others turn their backs on them. These are not nuisances, they are people. And, from what I’ve seen of those who stay in my chalet, they are wonderful people.
Newlyweds celebrating their weddings, elders who cherish time together after more than 50 years of partnership, same-sex couples who feel comfortable staying here, a man and a woman who want to get married on the ownership from the small chalet. A young man, who lost his dear wife to cancer, who travels for a few months to recreate the vacation they once shared. A mother and father who distribute their son’s ashes at the local airport because he loved to fly here.
Then there are the guests who bring their doggies. They are so happy that the dog can stay with them on vacation. A couple working in the ICU who just needed a break from the Covid madness. The list goes on. But do you recognize any of these people?
We should all recognize these people. They are US, not THEM.
When we talk about reducing or eliminating “tourists” we are talking about diminishing the people they are and we refuse to recognize our fellow travelers on this planet and in this life.
Relax, folks. Really, enlighten yourself.