Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mooney Column, August 2, 2010

Antelope Valley Press
Edward Mooney, Jr.
August 2, 2010

Title: Meditations from the side of a volcano.

As my friend Bill Warford had printed here, I was on vacation last week.
Every now and then, when we're able to afford it, the Mooney Family likes to
get away to one of the gems of the United States of America - a national
park.  Hold on a minute - I have a horsefly buzzing around me.  There, it's

Anyway, as you can tell, I'm writing this sitting in one of those "gems", in
the Manzanita Lake campground at Lassen Volcanic National Park.  Campsite
C-11.  This is one of the few columns I've actually scratched out on paper,
later to be transcribed into my computer.

I treasure my visits to national parks.  Over the years I've had the
privilege of visiting Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Grand Canyon,
Zion, Joshua Tree, Death Valley, Sequoia and Kings Canyon.  I'm excited to
keep adding these wonderful places to my list over whatever years the good
Lord has allowed me in the future.  They bring me so much peace and simple

Each time I visit a park I say a prayer, asking God to show me something
deeper about my own life, or about this world around me.  Each time I go
with an open mind and heart, believing that these lands and waters were set
aside not only to preserve our precious scenic wonders, but to give us a
place to reflect and listen to the song of our souls.

I was doing this yesterday evening, reading a bit from a history book (yes,
I know what you're thinking - what a complete nerd) when I was distracted by
the sounds of a loud radio blaring the play-by play from a Dodgers game.  I
found myself getting sucked into the tight competition and drifting from my
relaxing book.

You see, when I go to a national park I like to minimize electronics for a
few days.  I think it's important to "retreat" from our modern world and
seek a quieter, simpler existence - if only for a short time.  At first I
was entranced by the game.  I found myself closing my eyes and imagining the
blue hats with the white LA stitched above the bill.

I quickly open my eyes when the people in the neighboring campsite roared
with obscenities; the Dodgers scored.  These were Giants fans, quite normal
considering we were in far northern California.  I grumbled, but then a
quiet and simple message came across my heart.  I was getting sucked into
the day-to-day turmoil of "down below" and being pulled away from the quiet
thoughtfulness of the mountains and the trees.

Earlier in the same day another group was being quite bawdy and loud in the
other direction - so much that, again, I was unable to read.  People were
arguing.  There was talk about summoning a ranger.  These words were loud,
but it was the anger rising in my heart that startled me.

At that moment I clearly saw something about who we are as human beings.  If
we spent more time respecting each other, and I mean if we were concerned
about how our behavior affected others, and spent less time being worried
about our own needs, we'd have a more peaceful existence.

Simply put, sometimes we're disgustingly selfish.  Our selfishness leads to
conflict, which leads to the need for laws, law enforcement, courts,
prisons, and so much more.

Consider how much less we'd spend on government and police protection if we
were as concerned about those around us as we are about our own needs
(sounds Biblical, huh?).  We wouldn't need locks on doors as we'd know not
to enter someone else's house.  We'd not need to call law enforcement
because our neighbors would not want to loudly disturb our evenings and they'd
quickly turn down baseball games after our one polite request.

Yes, I know I'm dreaming.  But it's still the truth.

In essence, at Lassen Volcanic National Park I met the enemy, and he is us
(to misquote the old comic strip "Pogo").  Our own disrespect is the source
of so many of our conflicts.  I asked myself if I'm willing to be a part of
the solution, and not the problem.  I promise to try.

On the positive side, the Dodgers won that game, 2-0, so "nyah-nyah", Giants
fans!  Oops, there I go, breaking the promise I just made.  Sigh.

Thought for the week: "If we lose love and self respect for each other, this
is how we finally die." - Maya Angelou

Edward Mooney, Jr., a Palmdale author, is the 2010 DAR History Teacher of
the Year for California.

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