As a post-script to a previous post about this unfolding fiasco that faces our national environmental health, specifically the budgetary implosion threatening our system of refuges and parks (Updated with this latest insanity here). To put into context this deluge of initiatives dismantling pollution controls, from waste from coal in streams to littering the land with lead, the wolves are in charge of the proverbial henhouse, with virtually every single head of each regulatory department in government now being chaired by sworn enemies of their respective responsibilities. In the normal workforce, you wouldn't get a job if you proudly state at the interview how much you hate the place where you want to work and - above + beyond systemic incompetence - your sole qualification and goal was to gut and kill off the very company you are tasked with running, but these are definitely not normal times.
My personal issue as of late has been literacy, since as an informed citizen it’s awful hard to learn about any of the other issues facing us as a society if you can’t read or write. That said, without clean air, water and land, the point is moot. As in, what the hell are fighting for, and it underscores just what exactly it is that that defines us and what our collective priorities are as a nation. The primacy of the environmental issues cannot be overstated: Jobs, health care, internet, immigration, etc. etc.... all of it will be lost causes when the air, water and land becomes poisoned. Even so, there is in turn a host of interrelated issues all bearing on the overarching issues facing environment, all connected directly and indirectly, and all undergoing death-by-a-thousand-cuts: literally in this case with regards to regulatory rollbacks and administrative efforts to undermine every aspect of what makes America great (see "America's Best Idea").
Right before the elections I grabbed a Sunday breakfast at Sourdough Sam’s diner… over at the next table was Congressman Don Young (one of my most-frequented editorial subjects: see here, here, here, here and here). I overheard him say “Hillary is syphilis, and Trump is gonorrhea.” After jotting it down in my omnipresent sketchbook, I mulled over turning around and extending the metaphor: that begs the question what genitalia would that then make the body politic? Chalk it up to personal diplomacy I kept eating my omelet instead.
Nevertheless, we, the people, are getting screwed.
And when it comes to this fresh assault on America's parks and public lands being instigated by the "so-called president," all I can honestly say is damn him. And just - if not more importantly - damn all the scavenging politicians who are employing him as a distracting sock-puppet by which to enact their corrupt, subversive legislation on behalf of corporate industry.
Damn them for violating what for me is a special covenant: the closest thing to religion I have is in wilderness, it is sacrosanct. The strongest sense of "patriotism" I feel is for our public lands: a shared, common American value. It’s what makes the United States different, and risking jingoism here, equal to if not better than anyplace else on the planet – and the same goes especially for my home, our home, right here in Alaska. What we have here is so special, so rare, and is the flagship of our nation that showcases what has been lost and damaged in so many other places. It unifies us - including folks who might otherwise be seen as incompatible company on account of conflicting views on so many issues. Nature isn't a matter of right versus left, Republican versus Democratic, liberal as opposed to conservative and so on - it is a rallying point and a refuge for all. It transcends party lines, class lines, everything that seeks to divide us.
Hence the inherent danger behind the cheap politicization of stewardship of public lands, and the consequent contamination of our studiously held position of neutrality, and a loss of the fragile balance protecting public lands that are all Alaskan's responsibility and privileged to protect.
We can take heart at this most recent countermeasure by industry over the legislative breach of trust in Utah for example: all retailers and businesses, including all related tourism and trade organizations with a vested economic interest (millions of dollars + millions of visitors) and everybody who otherwise profit from the outdoors therefore need to step up and send a strong, unequivocal message to state + federal representatives. Add to the list all of the artists of any mediums who derive their livelihood in any way from nature, wilderness, the environment, wildlife – it’s time to mobilize and unite - it’s time to protect and defend. It will take as many different forms as there are the multitude of varying abilities, what's important is whatever effort we can devote in whatever way we can.