“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” John Muir
Last night was rerun night on PBS along with their usual campaign to raise funds. We’ve seen this series many times and it never fails to satisfy. Ken Burns always brings us to a different plain when it comes to how we feel about our country. In this series about the National Parks, it reignites those feelings of pride in our country and one of the best ideas it ever had.
As we look at the magnificent photography of these wild and natural places, filled with beauty beyond compare its hard not to be thankful and amazed all at the same time. These places are like the “beginning of creation,” and they need to remain that way. The parks have grown in number and are visited by their owners (the citizens of America) every summer. I remember going through some when our children were younger. Because they are part of us we have an obligation to keeping them safe and free from the infestation of those who would turn them into side shows and tourist traps. Fortunately that hasn’t happened – yet.
I can’t help but wonder how long that will last. Remember, if you will, how the land was eaten up by early American settlers in search of a better place to live, along with the very rich who built up that land with factories, cities, railroads and industry of all sorts. In the process, a whole nation filled with Native Americans was displaced or destroyed. Not to mention those who searched for their fortune in the land itself during the gold and silver rushes of our history. Then the land poured out its oil and a whole different group of investors made yet another fortune.
I also wonder where all these newcomers to our nation will live as we keep making room for more and more immigrants. Mind you, I’m not saying anything about those who legally enter our country. I am descended from immigrants as most every American is. What will our America look like in another hundred years? Will the wild places be devoured by humans? Will our national treasures turn into landfills or slum filled cities? I pray that never happens, but it is something to think about.
When the National Parks came into being, we were in the middle of a civil war. Even in a time of crisis our leaders were looking out for the unbelievable landscapes that remained unscathed by human hands. These places are a heritage that we must maintain as they are today.