Van Beek: Being governed by your inferiors is not an acceptable option

Election season is here and once again, casual conversations are quickly becoming heated disagreements. It seems that politics has taken over every aspect of our being — everything from gas prices to food supplies, health to education, and more. And, while our community has been working hard to diffuse conflict, after two unprecedented years, this week it was ramped up again.

It has been a long time since the judicial branch has had this much press and people are astonished at what they are learning. For decades, the Supreme Court appeared to operate in the background. The average person, while affected by the decisions, had little interaction with the process, thus, it all seemed a bit foreign to our daily lives. This session was different.

Guns, religion, and reproductive rights have all been more visibly impacted this week by decisions that influence not only legislation but also trigger highly emotional responses. However, what we must remember is that these decisions simply emphasize that the power over these issues is decided locally. 

The Supreme Court’s job is not to base its conclusions on politically popular results, but rather to determine if the issues presented are constitutionally protected rights, or if they should be mandated by the individual states. In these cases, responsibility was shifted back to the states.

As a result, it is increasingly important that citizens become more active in their local political process by electing those who they feel accurately represent their positions. And whenever possible, get involved as a candidate or major supporter of issues of particular interest. You are the only one who can make a difference.

Support Local Journalism

Plato once said, “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” The best way to avoid the kind of division that we’ve experienced over the past few years is to regain that sense of control by getting involved in the process.

Often, when we feel helpless about things that are so deeply personal, we respond in frustration that can quickly develop into anger. Let’s make a conscious effort not to let that happen in our close-knit community. 

Breakups between family, friends, and colleagues over politics, are simply not worth it. Everyone has a different perspective and issues may affect them uniquely, thus, they will respond in ways that may not make sense to others. 

On a very local level, we are here to maintain the level of respect that our community is known for. Intense disagreements followed by a friendly drink or meal is our style. We are a community of passion. It’s in our DNA. We live a life pushing the boundaries both on the trails and in our lifestyle. Failure is not an acceptable option, yet acknowledging another’s position is a mutual win. 

We also want to be an exceptional example of community and tolerance for our children. After several years of conflict over so many things, with most beginning and ending in politics, let’s recalibrate our approach to differences. A return to civility is not such a bad objective.

Let’s be the example of acceptance of diversity on all levels, including opinion. The passion by which we live our lives can be exhibited in all of our daily interactions, and done so with consideration, humor, and love.

As the summer kicks off, let’s enjoy the reasons why we live here. Differences will always be there — it is part of the excitement of living in a society and within a community that honors those differences. Let’s focus on the mutual values we all share: friendship, compassion, fun, adventure, respect for nature, and kindness.

James van Beek is the Eagle County sheriff. You can reach him at

Support Local Journalism