Jan/20/2018 0 Malia Lane
National Parks
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National Park Closed sign
I woke up this morning to the news of yet another government shutdown. Oh, our elected officials who are supposedly working for our benefit still get paid, but countless other working class citizens don’t have that same security.

The last time I woke up to that news was in 2013 when I was actually camped in Cades Cove Campground in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Later, I helped organize a protest near one of the park’s closed entrances.

I was eyewitness to the very real-life, indisputable effects it had on the people who worked in and around the park and whose livelihoods depended on that seasonal tourist income.

I saw the heartbreak of people who had to scramble to find alternate arrangements for their long planned for wedding at the beautiful natural setting there.

Of course the inevitable blaming of one or the other is in full swing. The President insists it is the fault of the Democrats. Others are incredulous that he could say that when the Republicans are in control of everything.

All I know is that I don’t trust any of them! Other than protesting the Vietnam war in the 60s, I suppose I could best be described as apolitical. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to politicians. And none of them have done anything since to gain my trust. I didn’t trust Hillary either, and Obama’s hypocrisy pissed me off a number of times, too.

But now we have a duly elected President who I can’t help but believe is only concerned with his own interests and those of his mega-rich buddies and supporters. I never really believed his promises or agreed with some of the reasons behind them, but my favorite was that he would “drain the swamp.” That sounded promising, like a fresh start in Washington that would hopefully extinguish some of the special interests. But I certainly don’t see that happening. Are all politicians totally bankrupt of morality and humanity? Is the only thing that’s important is how much money they can make? And will there ever be enough money and power for them?

I feel so hopeless today. I don’t know who to believe because I’ve found their words are all lies when compared to their actions. There is so much hatred on both sides that there seems there will never be any common ground again. I just read a comment from someone in a thread about the shutdown that if a government worker was so affected by losing their pay for a little while that they just didn’t do a good enough job of financial planning! My heart sunk at the callousness and lack of care in that comment that I wanted to just stay in bed with the covers over my head and cry.

Who’s really to blame? We blame the politicians but who’s really in charge? Do we believe the rumors of secret groups behind the scenes who really control the politicians and what are their nefarious motives besides endless greed? We don’t even know that for sure, much less what to do about it.

Is there anything that can be done to change this course? Is there anything at all we can do to make a real difference? I just can’t believe that signing this or that petition, making tons of phone calls or writing letters end up anywhere but in the indifference trash basket. Even peaceful protesting in public is a dangerous proposition besides seeming to make no difference whatsoever. And even when we elect someone who we believe has a good heart and will try to do the right thing, they seem to be quickly converted to the dark side by greed.

I may be awake to the problem and I’m willing to help be part of the solution, but of course there is no agreement on a solution, and the frustration mounts.

My only hope today comes from the fact that my eyes can still see the beauty that is before me. I’m now in the desert on the opposite side of the country from the lush Great Smoky Mountains. This is my desert backyard and to say the least, the environment is greatly in contrast even though the political BS is the same.

Saguaro NP sign

So I’m going to get dressed and head to Saguaro National Park. There may not be services or open facilities, but from what I understand, you can still drive through. I need to remind myself that no matter how barren an environment may seem, no matter how cruel, there is still beauty that can be found if we are patient and really look around. So I’m going to sit in the middle of the desert today and cry there until I can be convinced that hope in my heart can be restored. Wish me luck!

Related Malia’s Miles pages:

Confined in Cades Cove: I was actually camped in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park when the last shutdown happened in 2013. There was actually good and bad related to that – here’s what I experienced, including a bear encounter!

Protest – Great Smoky Mountains National Park Shutdown: A group of us organized a protest at one of the entrances. We were a little surprised at the great turnout and local support!

Government Shutdown – 2013: Politicians gave press conferences while the local businesses suffered.