Thursday, October 3, 2013

Heading Back to the Canyon - Closed or Not

On the eve of my return to the southwest, I want to share this film with you. It is in honor of several things. First - the Grand Canyon - that magic place that takes up a huge part of my heart and life. Second - Kaitlin Kenney - the beautiful young woman who lost her life in the canyon in January this year. I have learned a great deal about life and beauty and hope and faith through her life, and I thank her and her family for that. And finally, this is for all those thousands of people who had planned to see the Grand Canyon, but can not because of the government shutdown. I am right there with you. The trip I planned is not likely to be the trip I will have, but I am open to what comes.

For the Grand Canyon. For Kaitlin. For you.

The Soul's Journey, a Film By Naseem Rakha

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Spitting Mad


I was standing on the bank of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon when I saw a huge raft approaching. Bigger than any raft I had ever seen. It was bright white and the water was red. On it, stiff as pillers, were about one hundred men. All of them dressed in suits and all of them mouthing something. The sound of the water drowned out their words until they got closer and I could hear that they were actually chanting, 

"WE DO NOT LIKE GREEN EGGS AND HAM. WE DO NOT LIKE THEM UNCLE SAM!"  Over and over they said this. Like something out of Monty Python. 

Then I noticed they were approaching Crystal Rapid. Crystal is a killer rapid. Monster water, with a monster hole that has swallowed its fair share of rafts and rafters. But there was no way that raft, so big and full, would be able to get into the rapid, let alone through it. But then, cartoon like, the raft narrowed and entered the rapid and glided straight toward the hole. 

I shouted and pointed, but the men were oblivious and soon the entire raft and its suited cargo was gone—the only thing remaining—red, white and blue lapel pins flying out from the hole and landing on shore like fish scales.

I began to run down river. One by one, I pulled the pallid men from the water. They were cold. Shivering. And they were pissed. 

"This is why we should get rid of the parks!" one said. "Sell them!" said another. "Close them." "Drain them!" And at that, Moses-like, the river emptied. Roaring water flushed away. Fish flapped on dirt covered rocks. 

"No!" I screamed. And then, not having anything better to do, I spat at the men. And then I did it again and again, and soon there were a whole bunch of people standing next to me and we were all raging and spitting. And before long the river filled with our saliva—clean and clear with purpose and direction—washing the men away.

  • 401 parks were closed today because of the Government Showdown over the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare)
  • National Parks typically receive 750,000 visitors per day in October.
  • 22,000 National Park Service employees have been furloughed.
  • Over 7,000 private concession staff have been furloughed. 
  • All current visitors to the parks have 48 hours to find alternative lodging.
  • No river, climbing, backpacking, lodging, or camping permits will be honored. 
  • Overall it is estimated the shutdown will cost local businesses near the country's 401 parks over 30 million dollars a day in lost revenue.

This is what happens when voters elect government haters into office. Things bog down then, shut down. The airwaves fill with passion and pundits and prodigious speeches filled with kitsch and clamor.  But progress, real progress, policies which educate and feed and build and create, they are scrapped for ego and ideology. And in the mean time, parks close, and people don't get paid, and stores lose customers, and an economy - getting some breath of life this last year—gets strangled once again. 

This is what happens when we sell our vote to the highest bidder. Or believe the lie that a nation can be great without government services. This is what happens when idiots reign. 

It's time to get mad. It's time to get spitting mad. It's time to crash the Tea Party and its Koch addiction, and send them all down river. 

And now, for the book we all need to read: 

-Naseem Rakha, October 1, 2013