Leaving Politics Out of the Hike

I have been accused of being to “political.” I am happy people notice, I have never been one to hide my politics on this blog. In fact, the premise of this blogging endeavor was to figure out, through engaging an audience, what my politics might be. Its an ongoing process. So when I write about nature, hiking- anything; it should not surprise anyone that I would also explore the politics of it.

I think by sharing my perspective on history, even the critical aspects, I am expressing my appreciation of all the things that occurred in the past that have lead to the present. History is like a good story, except it isn’t fictional and its ongoing. That last part makes history so much more exciting then then a fictional novel, the drama just keeps building, the plot continues to twist, and new characters are always waiting on the wings. By being critical of the past, I am not negating the present, or hating “what we are.”  There is no “us” and “them” binary in my writing. To the contrary, I believe that ultimately we are all heirs of the past, all of it- the good (our Constitution), the bad (forced relocation of native populations), the ugly (slavery and Jim Crow).

Its the present that we live in and the future that we can shape, the past is done with. We can learn from the past thereby shaping our future; and, by expressing my views of history, I am hoping to shape a future I can live in.

The activities associated with the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power, is what politics is defined as. The Greek word, from which politics is derived, means of or relating to citizens. Consider that the word “politics” also became a prominent way of describing the relationship between the citizen, individual and group, to the state, when we had the creation of “nation states.”  In those early stages of Kingdoms, politics dealt with property rights and the relations to the crown. Property remains central to “politics” but eventually the idea built from this genesis to incorporate other aspects of the state function that concerns citizens- legislation, the justice system, balancing of powers between government institutions, relations with private business and more importantly the organization of likeminded political groups vying with other political groups that differed in perspective to gain prominence in shaping policy and governance, the political party.

Couched in that frame of mind, nature itself is political. When a company wants to mine on public reserves, as a society we weigh the benefit of the business operation and the desire to protect the natural resource- in trying to balance these needs we are acting out our preferences, competing with different preferences in order to give our interest primacy over others. The way we resolve this in a democracy is the essence of politics.

On a national level, all of the National Parks that exist today were the product of a political movement that developed out of a philosophical, religious and scientific convergence of ideas.

When you read about my hikes, about my visits to places- these exist because there was some sort of politics involved in birthing those places to exist for us to experience today.  They didn’t just end up as they are, in fact, there were significant number of people working as a group to oppose the creation of National Parks and reserves. That made the very process political. How can I then be apolitical when the very essence of what I am doing and writing about has had its genesis in politics?

The political battles are over and won…yet, they aren’t.  Manzanar is a local example that I care deeply about which is currently endangered by a solar power plant, and clean energy is another area I care deeply about as well.

I can’t promise that my posts will be apolitical. I have an innate desire to not just to see the world as I see it, but to view it the way I think it should be. I won’t make promises I can’t keep, but I will promise that you will find interesting tie bits and opinions you may not have encountered before. Most of all, I am open to hear back, just be civil, dignified and respectful.

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