These photos were taken by my long-time friend Brandon Cobb (@_childish_brandino_). He has graciously provided not only these captivating photos but has contributed a very compelling piece of writing included below (“Brandon’s Excerpt”). He speaks a lot of truth, and I am thankful we have people like him who see the beauty and importance of our world.
This week I had the awesome opportunity to go to White Rock Mountain in Arkansas. We (my girlfriend and I) quite literally stayed at the very top of this mountain overlooking rolling hills and valleys of green trees bending under the wind. A wind that rushed like the rivers and waterfalls found throughout our hiking trails — it truly was breathtaking. This trip came at the perfect time in both of our lives, we both had a lot on our minds. To escape into this National Park and take a breath, to be present amid such grandeur, does a lot for the spirit. Nature challenges us, her immense beauty is gentle yet powerful — we are not as in-control as we think. We are apart of this, Nature and we are one. Mother Earth has made us, we need to start giving back.
A… A… It is a… Bear!
During one of our hikes, we encountered a Black Bear. It was equally terrifying as beautiful. Bears are one of my greatest fears when I go on trips like this (I even have dreams about it). This bear was simply walking its massive body across the trail, super calm as if it too was enjoying the nice weather as we were. It dawned on me that this bear exemplifies the need for National Parks.
After seeing and hearing so much debate about climate change recently, I have become convinced that our disrespect for our planet is no more or less our attempt to build our own Tower of Babel:
“And they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.’ And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.'” Genesis 11:3-4
In fact, God’s response to “garble” their language is his device to limit human power, and save themselves from their rampant sin that will inevitably lead to their own destruction. Today, I think we are living out that reality literally. Humans, in our hubris, have recklessly pursued wealth and advancement without check, in the same impulse of the tower builders. “Maybe we can reach heaven? As Nietzsche wrote, we’ve killed God, so what’s stopping us from being gods ourselves? Human advancement is unstoppable!” we exclaim. But those whispers sound eerily similar to the serpent’s in the garden whispering in humanity’s ear with a siren’s breath that we can be just like God.
I’m convinced likewise, that if climate change is a human issue, not a political one, that unless hearts are changed, unless we become compassionate for the poor and homeless who will lose their lives in a global flood and catastrophe, or stop hating those different than us, or a different party than us, or even give up some of our affluence, because of our sins against the earth will be leveled by Nature itself, reminding us of our place in the universe.
The question to answer then, of course, is then the same as the apostle Paul’s so many years ago, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” It certainly seems we are incapable of this task ourselves.
National Parks: A refuge for more than animals
Not only are National Parks home to 400+ endangered species of animals, but they also provide opportunities for humans to experience the full brunt of Nature. As mentioned, Nature teaches us a lot about ourselves, mindfulness, and the oneness of everything. She shows that her nature is our nature. The flower, the tree, the bison, the mountain, the river, and the bear are all OUR nature. However, our human ego gets in the way and starts to put a hierarchy to the order of things — no longer is it ONENESS, but Human as number one. This has caused devastating effects to our Mother Earth and the parks she holds. Funding continues to be cut, some (mostly republican) politicians are pushing to give more of this sacred land over to oil drilling, and federal protection on precious animals has been removed (by Trump). Mother Earth is hurting. These sacred lands hold invaluable resources and ecosystems that should not be tampered with. The Native Americans knew this and yet the white colonizers killed them off in the name of Manifest Destiny and the longing for riches. Will we continue to do the same?
What can we do?
- We should vote. With the upcoming election, we should seek candidates that are eager to fund National Parks and long to see more laws and policies put in place to protect these Parks. In addition, look for candidates that will not be bought out by big corporations concerning pollution — vote for someone that will hold big companies responsible for the number of pollutants they are spilling out! This is, after all, the future of Mother Earth herself.
- Consider changing your diet. 1 year of being a vegan and you will have saved: 10,950 Sq.ft of forest, 7,300 lbs of Co2, 401,500 Gallons of water, 14,600 lbs of grain, and 365 animal lives. These are immense stats. I’m not saying you have to go vegan, but simple changes in parts of our diet have lasting and monumental changes.
- Write to your senators and congressmen/women. Urge them to consider the importance of our Parks. This link is a good place for you to search who represents you. It will provide different ways to contact them. https://www.govtrack.us
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. A classic, but full of easy ways to save.
In the comments
I would love to hear some of your favorite or craziest stories in a National Park, or any place out in Nature!
Be free in the present,