We were park hosts in an unbelievably beautiful and usually peaceful regional park in Arizona. One day, as we were returning to the park, the guards let us know to be aware of an “incident” that happened earlier that day.
A Hispanic woman with several young children was visiting the park, probably to hike one of our popular trails or take the kids to the playground. As she was leaving, a driver raced around her, cut her off, and blocked her car. He got out of his vehicle, approached her and her children and pointed his finger like a gun, and pulled “the trigger.” Needless to say, she was terrified.
Even if I try to ignore this as racially motivated, which is hard to do in this racially charged environment, particularly in Arizona, it leaves me to wonder what have we as people, as a nation, become?
The rhetoric, the hate, the viciousness, and most of all the division that we as one people, as one nation, have turned neighbor against neighbor, family against family, brother against sister.
It has invaded not just our streets, but it has invaded the place that I hold most dear, our campgrounds. I see it in the distrust and reserve our new “neighbors” have when we pull in. I see it in the hateful bumper stickers with unkind and vulgar words.
I’ve never thought of myself as an “old fogey”—where I’m constantly thinking of the past in a nostalgic haze. I love technology and I even like social media and cable channels! I’m glad to call Uber on an app, and find out the weather and driving directions on another app. But all that being said… I miss feeling safe picking up a hitchhiker. I don’t want to worry about where the exit is or where I am sitting at a movie theater, shopping mall, or at church. I don’t want to worry about my son working in a school. He would stand in front of any child to protect them.
I want to enjoy conversations without having to say, “Nope, I don’t talk politics at the campground,” to someone who is going down a rabbit hole that I don’t want to follow.
I am tired of being judged as too liberal, too conservative, too rich or too poor, too black, or too white.
I want a simpler, kinder time.
In the end, all I want is a couple of chairs around a campfire and to be able to invite that terrified Hispanic woman and her children to come sit and enjoy s’mores with us. I want her to know that here, in this park, she is safe.