On this Sunday afternoon here in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina it is quiet with sun peeping in and out; just enough to make me think it might stay for a while. The temperature is cool, great for a walk, but I don’t do those much anymore. With back and hip problems, I could be courting pain that lasts for hours.
I watched the Sunday morning TV news shows and I feel I am listening to people who live in a faraway galaxy, not here in my country where the woods are still and silent around my house; where the blue mountains in the distance are home to bears, squirrels, coyotes, and deer, none of whom threaten my way of life. In fact, I am quite sure I will live out my days on this earth just as I am now. I will probably never see a Syrian refugee, a terrorist who comes to blow up our town, an outpouring of angry people marching on the square of Hayesville. I don’t live in fear for myself.
But I am concerned about the future of our world, our country and especially our beautiful national parks and our state parks. The last vestiges of wild and unspoiled land in the United States were set aside by past leaders who recognized the future needs of our people to have a place that was not concrete and asphalt, to have a quiet peaceful place to get away from our hurried and stressful lives.
For many years now, here in North Carolina, I have had the luxury of visiting the Smoky Mountains National Park. Millions of Americans and people from all over the world come to soak up the vastness, the spiritual feeling one absorbs here.
Far too many take our federal lands for granted with no thought of the cost of maintaining these special places. I remember my trip to Yellowstone some years ago. I will never forget the scenes I saw, the hot springs, the bison, the mating elk and the moose. What a vision it was to look out over the wide plains with the amber grasses tall enough to reach the bellies of the buffalo herds that stretched for miles it seemed.
|Elk - We saw them everywhere in Yellowstone|
Barry and I, while in Las Vegas on business, were able to take an extra week to visit Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon. I wish all the people who spend their lives in dingy little apartments in dirty cities could travel to these glorious sites. When I was there I was so proud I was bustin’ my buttons thinking that these thousands of acres will be protected from the abuse of man and his greed.
Only recently have I worried that our culture might change so much that we forsake these national monuments and development might creep in and soon it will all be gone. I won’t be here to see it, but I have nieces and nephews who have children and they will have families who I hope will visit the parks and find them as fascinating as I do.
We must find a middle ground between those who will destroy our land for money and those who challenge everything for love of nature. We must find a way to make a living without polluting our water, our rivers and our oceans. No matter what you make as a salary, it is not worth spoiling our water resources.
I have lived a few weeks without water in my house. What a horror. I have a well for water for my home and since we drilled a new one, I have to use a filter on the line coming into the house, and also another on the water faucet in my kitchen. Imagine having a situation like Flint Michigan where all water is polluted and dangerous to drink.
When the protections set for our water and environment were put in place by past U.S. Presidents, I was relieved and had hope that we would be safe for the future. Now I am not feeling so safe. When regulations are removed, then our protections are gone.
We are a capitalist country where money has more value than almost anything else. When I was younger, I wanted more money and felt I would be happier if I had a better house, nicer clothes, and could travel. People who make 75,000 dollars a year are just as happy as those who make 300,000 dollars a year according to some studies. Our country is low in the happy countries list.
No matter how rich we become, we need more than money to make us happy. Our “stuff” will eventually be given away or thrown away. What really makes us happy? Freedom from fear, love from our family, and lasting friends who will always be there.
These are the non-material things we need.
To help support Yellowstone National Park, check out this link.