In the past I’ve been very shy about hitting on political issues and almost apologetic. All I am is a dude who likes to hike and I don’t ever want to misrepresent myself. I think party politics are cancerous and leads to tribalism (which is holy fuck rampant anymore), I tend to feel like there’s some underlying agenda with everything done in politics. I’m tired of it, I’m frustrated with it, I hate talking about it. One reason why I don’t push politics too often is I don’t like creating the illusion that everything I do from then on has a political agenda behind it. I very much just like to go about my day, see cool things, take pictures of them, and share them with others because I have a deep love for our natural areas I like sharing that, I like seeing people go out and experience it too. But you know what? This is kind of a big deal, and it’s worth talking about every once in a while.
So to the wilderness I went to get away from it and a million other things, but oh hey wouldn’t you know it: That could be under threat, so.. cool.
Long story short, there’s some folks representing the fine state of Utah who got their egos checked with a certain Bears Ears Monument. Now, to be fair to them (yuck), there was local pushback for not making that place a National Monument of which I have zero comprehension for. The towns near Bears Ears don’t really have much going for them and a bit of tourism in the area could really support the local economies, but whatever. By and large I’m pretty unsympathetic and I’m a bit of a brute when it comes to protecting wilderness areas, wildlife, etc. I almost stopped hiking with Exo (my PCT buddy) for throwing a beetle in a campfire (I then went on to massacre a bunch of biting flies outside of Kennedy Meadows for relentlessly biting me, so… ). I’m not really vocal about any of it, but I get frustrated. If they are concerned about that place being designated as a National Monument because it puts their jobs at risk, they should adapt and get new jobs. Plain and simple, under any other circumstances citizens would be expected to do the same thing: say a bunch of farmers having their land bought out by companies looking to build factories for mass production.. that kind of thing. Suddenly – for example – instead of people growing crops (other than corn), you have a town of breakfast cereal makers.
Anyways, they’ve been crying about it ever since it happened and now their crying has reached a crescendo within the government. Long story short, they gained traction and all areas designated as National Monuments since ’96 are to be reviewed. Ultimately they’ve claimed their goal isn’t to strip the protections over these areas but to police an abuse of power by the Obama administration, and they later said that this presents a great opportunity to become energy independent (not a direct quote), blah blah blah close enough, which directly contradicts their statement saying they’re simply ‘re-evaluating’. This is about resources, whether they’re below ground, on the ground, or things that could be potentially built on the ground. It’s also about winning “The good fight against the dems” because again, party tribalism is fucking cancer and we’ve reached a point where the two are just slapping each other with their heads turned away to at least protect their beautiful faces.
I’m not typing this out to be informative because I’m emotional beyond the point of being Mr. Informative. I’m upset, confused, etc. The bare minimum and personal aspect of it is I just want to be left alone, I just want to go out and hike. That’s it. I don’t ask for much from life, I don’t need a house with a picket fence and a vintage car in the garage that I wax every weekend but refuse to drive. I don’t need or want anything above and beyond, I have no interest in being part of the typical American herd because it’s become an insane and noisy place. I’ve come to care very deeply about our natural areas over the course of all of that and I’m so convinced that if more people went outside more often, our priorities as a country could shift for the better. At the very least our national blood pressure would go down a few notches.
At the very best, this all dies out and those wanting to get their hands on some of these places are voted out of office for being dickweeds. At the very worst, we start seeing construction in front of scenes and landmarks that are almost embedded in our national culture. At that point I hope enough people would be there to make things very difficult for anyone trying to come in and destroy our natural environments, and while my promise on a tiny little blog means next to nothing: I would absolutely be there with them. Growing up I always thought people doing stuff like chaining themselves to trees were stupid and over-emotional about a few trees: “There’s plenty of trees in the world who cares if a few of them get chopped down here and there”, but I didn’t really understand it wasn’t just about those few trees in particular but the ecosystem as a whole. It’s funny to be on the other side of that all of the sudden as an adult.
I don’t like lying so extremely on either side of things because I feel like you lose a lot of insight into the grey areas that come with every issue, there always is one. But god damn, we only have the one planet, the little pockets of ‘nature’ spread throughout this country in particular. We’re living like slobs when we could be better. If humanity came in and started destroying certain areas for profit, then suddenly we all vanished one day: Nature would recuperate but only on the condition that we remain gone, things would level out and be fine. If we set a precedent to have the ability to disregard environmental protections in the name for resources and “job creation” (god the patriotic hard-on people get over ‘job creation’ is the fucking worst), we’re going to be out of luck. Certain things will never regrow, we’ll never regain the natural beauty that we have right now, that we’re currently losing right now. Nature can’t recuperate if we start refusing it the chance to do so. And also it shouldn’t even have to recuperate at all.
I’m not the guy with the answers. I don’t know what to say, I’m not going to tell you to call your representatives or whatever because all you get is an automated response. They know what they’re doing is drawing unfavorable attention, they’re just scrambling to do as much damage as they can while they have power. Just go outside more, bring a friend with you, take lots of pictures and spread them around on your social media accounts. Make people want to experience the things that you do. Not all activism or protest or any intended clash between ideals has to be in your face, loud, and frankly annoying. Sometimes you just have to present your side in a positive way, to show people what they’re missing out on and what’s at stake. Sometimes you don’t have to say anything at all, sometimes that’s for the best. Before my PCT hike and after I didn’t really talk about it because I thought people would find it crazy or extraordinary when I kinda just think it was a normal progression in my life. It’s interesting that I’ve found that people just kinda say “I would love to do that” and seem to genuinely mean it. Suddenly I have new people to talk about hiking with.