Tabs Open #12: You Don't Want To Be A Cemetery

I finally got out into the woods over the weekend, just the second time I’ve done that for a day all year. Typically when I’m out there it’s the being alone I like best, the chance for quiet introspection and to be scared a little bit by my own loneliness, but even crowded trails can be pretty restorative. Sunday’s hike was very much the latter kind, but it made for a nice little tune-up: next week on my 9-day break between the school year ending and summer school beginning I’m headed out to the Olympic Mountains to attempt a summit of South Brother. (There won’t be a newsletter next week, accordingly. I’m also squeezing in a 3-day backpack into the Cascades at the end of the week, because I’m a glutton for punishment.)

Last year I took the same trip and due to some bad luck failed to reach the real summit. It was still a beautiful experience and frankly I probably learned more by goofing it up after hours of slogging vertically through snow and scree than I would’ve by getting it right on the first try. It feels like there’s a lesson in there somewhere. I’ll try not to stare too hard at it right now in case it’s one of those shy lessons that gets away from you if you try to examine it too closely.

As an addendum, as the weeks go on I’m finding it more difficult to find exactly 7 things worth sharing with you each time. Moving forward that number will probably vary a bit so that I can thoughtfully give each idea its due and not just stretch weak material to fill the space. That’s true this week, too: the ending of my teaching year and all this trip planning is eating up lots of my time, so we’ll keep things mercifully brief.

1. In my admittedly limited experience, very few people have the courage not just to believe the right things, but to do something transformational with that belief. It is no small act to commit oneself to liberation and dignity; such a choice almost always comes at great personal cost and risk.

Scott Warren is one such person. I can’t say that in a just world he’d be lauded as a hero, because in a just world the conditions for his heroism wouldn’t exist. But we don’t have a just world, we have this one, and in this one Warren is most certainly heroic. What else could you call someone whose mission is to wander into the desert of the borderlands and create networks for leaving food, water, and medical supplies for the refugees, asylees, and immigrants made to wander there?

Since we live in hell, Warren isn’t up for any medals. When I started writing this on Monday, he was awaiting a jury verdict that could’ve put him in prison for up to 20 years on a (literally) trumped-up charge; on Tuesday, that trial ended with a hung jury. The count was 8 to 4 in Warren’s favor which is really something when you consider the state of the world.

As of now the U.S. government hasn’t decided if it’s going to retry the case.

Warren is an activist with No Más Muertes/No More Deaths, a humanitarian group trying to help out the people who might otherwise die in the desert wastes. I first heard about them from the woman whose blog got me into distance hiking in the first place, Carrot Quinn. She publishes her own newsletter/blog about hiking and social justice if that’s your sort of thing. While you’re here, why not toss NMM/NMD a few bucks so they can keep their mission going, and subscribe to Carrot’s writing to boot?

That’s all from me for this week. Take care of yourselves, and each other.