On my first of three hikes to the bottom of the Grand Canyon one particular experience stands out. My friend and I were resting by the Colorado River when a helicopter flew by low and close. It passed out of sight just around the corner, obviously to land. A few minutes later the helicopter took off and then a park ranger came walking from the direction of the landing. Naturally curious, we asked what had happened. The ranger explained that one of the passengers on a large raft had gotten hurt and was being evacuated along with his parents. I asked how old the injured was and was told 26 years. I asked how bad the injury was and the response was just a gash in a hand. My first thought was if it were my 26 year old son with a non-life threating injury I would have said see you when we finish the rafting trip. The ranger went on to say that the rafting company was paying for the injured to be evacuated but the parents had to pay several hundred dollars to join him. “Drag out” was the term the ranger used. I had more questions. How often do people have to be “dragged out” of the canyon? The ranger’s response was that injuries were very rare but hikers who requested to be “dragged out” averaged more than one per day. There were two alternatives, by helicopter or by mule, the mule being much cheaper. The ranger further elaborated. He had seen many very young children about 5 years of age who would get very tired but after a few minutes of rest would be full of energy again and continue on. The ranger had witnessed some hikers near 90 years old just slowly keep putting one foot in front of the other and eventually making it out of the canyon. Then the phrase from the ranger that sticks in my head, “almost all of the drag outs are between 15 and 25 years of age.” It was not a physical problem but a mental problem that led to “drag outs”. The drag outs just lacked the mental fortitude press on.
I tell this story because I ask myself every day why do conservatives lack the mental fortitude to challenge Trump, to challenge his obvious lies and distortions, his erratic policy decisions, his lack of caring for the needy, his incompetence at fulfilling the duties of the office, his failure to set good examples such as wearing a facemask, his failure to keep his supporters socially distanced at gatherings, his trying to eliminate the affordable care act at a time when it is most needed. The Covid-19 numbers are skyrocketing and Trump just continues to add fuel to the fire. The words of Peter Marshall come to mind.
“May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please,
but as the opportunity to do what is right.”
America used to be about “doing the right thing”. Let us get back to being that kind of America.