Taking It

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The Trump Administration has drastically curtailed two large national monuments designated by President Obama and that’s got Carol Arnold fearing she just can’t take it anymore.

For nearly a year now most every day brings news of the latest government dismantling. Whether through attacks on minorities and women, the bungling of international relations, the enrichment of the top one percent, or the trashing of the environment, I have watched with horror as the values I hold dear are flung aside with what seems like gleeful malice. Burn-out is my familiar malady, “I can’t take it anymore,” my frequent lament. Despite efforts to influence outcomes by writing letters, making phone calls, donating money, or participating in protests, I am often left with a feeling of helplessness so pervasive I can hardly get off the couch.

In recent days, the assault has been relentless, reaching a fevered pitch with the slashing of our national monuments. One of these, the almost two million acre Escalante Grand Staircase in southern Utah, is a place I visit almost every year. From pristine pine clad mountains to dazzling red rock canyons, the sediments of Escalante hold ancient fossils and Indian ruins, a stunning depository of life on earth. Encountering this precious landscape is to enter another dimension, the limitations of ordinary life dropping away like a wool coat on a summer’s day.

At least it felt that way until I read the recent news. The government has announced that the protected lands of Escalante will be cut nearly in half, its neighboring monument, Bears Ears, by eighty percent. Unless stopped by the courts in inevitable lawsuits, future visitors may be forced to confront oil derricks, mine tailings, off-road vehicles and more.

Once again while reading this news, I felt that almost habitual sense of helplessness. But through some miracle, my familiar lament of “I can’t take it anymore” failed to arise in my throat. No matter what, I told my husband; we have to take it, if only to fight against it. Instead of fainting on the couch, I grabbed my check book and fired up the computer.


With a Perspective, this is Carol Arnold.

Carol Arnold is a retired environmental planner. She lives in San Francisco.