The Dignity of Work: How Citizen Leadership and Governor Polis Worked Together to Re-open Routt County’s Restaurants

December 22, 2020

In what appeared to some to be a Christmas miracle, Routt County’s restaurants were given the green light to re-open for indoor dining this past Friday evening. At the Steamboat Institute, we like to give credit where credit is due, and we extend a big Christmas stocking full of thanks to Colorado Governor Jared Polis. Without going into all of the details, Governor Polis — working behind the scenes with our mutual friend, talk-radio host Ross Kaminsky, and citizen leaders from Steamboat Springs — took immediate action to cut through red tape and get the restaurants re-opened at 25% capacity, just in time for the holiday rush. In a sometimes overly-partisan environment, it is refreshing to engage in bipartisan problem-solving, and we are grateful for this. For those of you who have visited a Routt County restaurant since Friday, you’ve probably noticed the beaming restaurant workers, with an extra spring in their steps, delighted to be back on the job. They are happy to have a paycheck to be able to pay their expenses and to take care of their families. But based on conversations with some of them, they are also really, really happy to be working. Why is that? The answer is simple and fundamental: There is dignity in work and in supporting one’s family and being a contributing member of the community. “To enjoy your work…this is indeed a gift from God.” – Ecclesiastes 5:19. It’s a frustrating thing for people who are otherwise willing and able to work to be told by government: “No, you can’t.” If they can’t work, they can’t provide. But people who are stopped from working also are deprived of the ability to use the talents and abilities that help to define them as individuals. On top of that, they are deprived of an opportunity to serve. Dostoyevsky observed that the highest expression of human freedom is in the service of others. Although some might find a modicum of service by complying with increasingly hard-to-explain, 64-box-of-Crayolas-coded COVID restrictions, most of our fellow citizens would rather express that freedom through serving their customers and patrons. Work has value, and no virus can diminish that. As we celebrate Christmas, we are thankful for Governor Polis and Ross Kaminsky, both of whom reached across the mountains to help Steamboat Springs and Routt County.

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