May I have your hand, Asheville?

I ask that you consider the metaphor of Asheville as a beautiful, wealthy, innocent young woman being courted relentlessly by men of all ages, some of whom are rapacious rogues. They desire her only for her wealth—her beauty a secondary consideration, at best.

The rogues appear presentable to her parents, who want a good marriage for the family. They’re perhaps unaware of the salacious reputations of these dubious suitors, instead accepting them at face value. Or, a promised cash infusion into their coffers is more important than their daughter’s health and happiness.

Courted assiduously with seductive promises of happily ever after along with pointed commentary designed to convince the family that the rogue’s way is best, the family arranges a heinous marriage, rejecting more desirable suitors who love the beautiful young woman for herself. They ignore friends and other family members, who whisper of infamy.

The beautiful young woman is quickly stripped of her wealth, her vitality, her beauty—in short, everything that made her unique and desirable. She is prostituted, abandoned, bereft. Her family is devastated by the rogue’s perfidy and attempts a rescue. A bitter end, indeed.

Now, assign roles to city and county governments, polluters, developers and citizens in the foregoing cast of characters, for everyone has their own part of the drama, their own opinions. The basic thrust of this argument: Do you want to wake up to a beautiful, mature grand dame or a tarted-up hooker with mascara-streaked cheeks? If the former, wouldn’t it be better to work at protecting Asheville’s virtues rather than selling her out to the rogues?

So what part will you choose to play in this story? Will you stand up in defense? Will you whisper of infamy or clearly make your opinions known? The choice is yours, and the lovely Asheville stands in wait.

— L.A. Peters

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