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Locked In

October 6, 2013

Once upon a time Naz and I went camping in the Painted Hills Desert of Arizona. Before leaving the Ranger Station they warned us to make sure we were prepared to stay the night, because the gate closed at 7:00 pm and we would be locked inside until morning. Being fully prepared, we hiked the requisite two miles from the trailhead and pitched camp. Just as the sun was going down we climbed to the top of a promontory. We could see for miles in every direction. The only sign of man was a tiny glint of light reflecting off the windows of the Ranger Station. Naz and I turned to each other and started yelling hysterically, “We’re locked in! We’re locked in!”

There are many ways to see the world.

Maybe they locked the gate to keep hooligans from vandalizing the park’s facilities. Maybe there was no night attendant. I’m sure they had a very logical reason for it, but at that point in my life it was very clear the gate represented the boundary between man’s world and the natural one.

Standing on the promontory watching the sunset, the world was open to us. We could hike in any direction and do anything we pleased. We were touching a freedom that didn’t exist in society. All we had to do was embrace it and a new world would open before us.

But the next morning we packed up, hiked the two miles to our car, and drove back to civilization. The gate was open; having shed our primordial selves, we were once more welcome in man’s world.

I can’t help thinking about this today, with the Government ‘shut down’ and all the National Parks ‘closed.’ How many people had to cancel their vacations? How many are losing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity? How many businesses are affected? And all because the National Parks have been declared closed, and everyone agrees to believe it.

Of course that’s the basis of civilization, isn’t it? We follow laws because they’re supposed to make the world a better, safer place to live in.

But what do you do when those laws are turned against themselves? When they’re held hostage to entirely unrelated events? When your very rights and freedom are being withheld?

The loss of National Park use for (what will hopefully be) a short period of time is a relatively minor transgression, in the grand scheme of things. But it’s a precedent, and it’s not a good one. The National Parks belong to the people. They are the very heart of America, and no governmental shutdown should preempt our right to visit them.

Instead of marching on Washington, this year let’s march right up to the edge of the Grand Canyon. Let’s step over the gate and #occupy nature. Let’s lock ourselves in.




From → Rants

One Comment
  1. Naz permalink

    do you remember that they also asked if we had a boat that we would be taking in?

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