GUEST COLUMN:

The Nevada spirit will carry us through, if we commit to it

History books of the future will address these amazing times we are living through, and I hope we pause to reflect and make course corrections regarding the legacy we wish to leave.

After witnessing the unprecedented year of 2020, I believe we have reached a critical moment in how history will view this time. With that in mind, I hope that we, as Nevadans, will not allow this period to be defined by gloating, partisan cheerleading and simply digging our heels in on issues to “score points” for one political side over another.

Of course, political passion and debate is nothing new, and there is no doubt it is an essential part of the great fabric of our nation. However, right now the discourse feels different. It feels polarizing and unforgiving due to the lack of empathy, the lack of compromise, the lack of willingness to listen and to appreciate alternative viewpoints that build consensus.

This saddens me because I believe in the spirit of “people” over political differences.

Debating is one thing, despising is another.

And Nevada has always had an amazing spirit of entrepreneurship, compassion, compromise and togetherness that we saw following the horrific tragedy of Oct. 1, 2017.

At this time in America, there is an obsession with two letters in the alphabet — R and D, for Republican and Democrat. That obsession brings with it anger like I have never witnessed before. My fondest desire is that this too shall pass, without completely destroying the heart and soul of our community, our state and our nation.

The Nevada spirit as I know it is one of a dignified job, risk-taking entrepreneurship and an incredible workforce that will need to thrive as we work to better our state.

From the incredible and sometimes forgotten workers who keep the rooms on the Strip and downtown Las Vegas clean and open, to the folks who build these rooms and stadiums, and everyone in between, we’ve all had a hand in Nevada’s greatness.

And most of all, this includes the engine that runs this wonderful country — the small-business community.

Nevada’s spirit is exemplified by the wife and husband who took their 401(k) retirement money and risked it to open a donut shop; the immigrants who gave up good jobs to open a specialty store; and the young chef who borrowed from friends and family to open her dream bistro. This spirit is also those who make the 4 a.m. deliveries of vital supplies to resorts as well as to the food kiosks at Allegiant Stadium and T-Mobile Arena. It is the restaurant owners who employ so many and give dignity to those trying to feed their families and put their children through school.

This is the true spirit of Nevada, and it is being ravaged by another letter in the alphabet — C, for COVID-19. The pandemic is killing our small-business community, and that affects all of us. COVID-19 does not care what political party you are from, it just attacks and kills. I want everyone to obsess over that.

We must beat this insidious disease before it beats us. That requires less hate and anger toward each other and more strength and compassion for each other. I know we can do it, but we must come together. It is imperative.

Now more than ever, we need strong leadership that will guide and lead us into the future. I hope the choice we make is to work collectively, to support each other and to be stronger together. That’s the essence of our community and our beloved state.

Because make no mistake about it, Nevada is going to be challenged like never before, and this is one of those great examples of “united we stand, divided we fall.”

Let’s do this together.

Peter Guzman is president of the Latin Chamber of Commerce.