13 June 2016

Hike to Carl Wark and Orlando Thoughts

I resume my sabbatical journal writing after lunch today with mixed feelings.  On the one hand, I was thrilled to be out in the Peak District this past Saturday with a couple of friends from work.  On the other hand, what happened in Orlando yesterday was so horrific that it's impossible for me to not put a few thoughts down in this space.  But where to begin?

Beliefs matter.  Beliefs lead to actions, which have consequences.  Most of the time consequences are benign, but sometimes consequences are fatal.  I've spent the majority of my life devoted to science.  Nothing in human history has proved more powerful and more accurate for helping us understand reality than science.  We are in a continual cycle of collecting data and evidence, forming hypotheses, peer reviewing work of others, and creating models of the natural world.  Though we never reach absolute truth, we constantly strive to improve our understanding of reality.  If new evidence comes along to shake our understanding of something, we go where the evidence takes us.  The models we create of reality surface only after much struggle and many hours of work.  We never simply assert truth.  I cannot wrap my head around what it feels like to read an assertion in an ancient book and come away thinking I've learned something about reality.

When all but one in a crowd of people entered that nightclub in Orlando this past Saturday night, they did so because they enjoyed life.  By dancing, laughing, singing, talking to friends, they celebrated the only life we know we have.  But one person, according to initial reports, had a problem with something as intrinsic to those people as to any of us.  Sexual orientation.  A belief not founded in reality contributed to the deaths of about 50 people and the wounding of at least that many more.  Were there other factors at play?  Most certainly.  But all those factors merged into hate so powerful that taking life became something doable.  And two prior FBI investigations provided no obstacle to purchasing an assault rifle, the AR-15, very popular in the US.  Now that the worst mass shooting in US history has happened, will more people want to be armed?  I won't be surprised if gun sales go up.

So what was I doing this past Saturday?  Two of my work colleagues and I took a bus to the Peak District with a walk in mind.  But weather played some tricks on us and we lost our path.  After getting to the top of Carl Wark in the Hathersage Moor, we were supposed to hike over to Higger Tor.  We did well to stay close to Burbage Brook but we lost our way in the fog atop Carl Wark.  Check out the photo of me on top of the promontory (click on the image for a larger view).
I'm told there is quite a view behind me!  We were inside of a cloud and couldn't see anything off the promontory.  But the great thing about the Peak District is that you really can't go wrong with your walking direction.  Once we got to the A6187, we entered the Longshaw Estate and hiked to Padley Gorge.  I visited Padley Gorge last October (click here for that story), but my colleagues saw it for the first time.  It's a great place to hike and has lots of neat paths (click on the image for a larger view).
I can imagine starting off a creepy story with a detailed description of the above path.  Just look at those trees!

I reach the end of this post and I feel weird.  The thought of breaking this post into two separate posts did enter my head.  But I think my short description of the hike I did this past Saturday is where I wanted to go after putting a few thoughts down about Orlando.  Because all I was doing was enjoying life with friends.  I'm no better or worse than those people who were murdered in that nightclub.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely commentary Eric. I'm reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind, and your blog fits perfectly. Shannon