Lately I've beenthinking a lot about John Muir. He's someone we all love and appreciate for hisefforts which resulted in the preservation of large tracts of wilderness andcreated an awareness of man's impact on the environment. He was able tocommunicate in a way that helped us see the wonder and value of nature as hewaxed lyrical about the mountains, streams, forests and the creatures thatinhabit our wild lands. In fact, Rocky Mountain National Park where I live andwork probably wouldn't exist without him.
Yet as I've thoughtabout him I've realized that one of the reasons everyone loves him today isbecause he is dead. He certainly wasn't loved by all when he was alive, as hespent much of his time opposing the destructive tendencies of mankind. Thelogging and mining industries hated him as he hindered their ability to actwithout limit. I am certain that if he was alive today that he would beconsidered an enemy of the current United States administration. There is nodoubt that he would refuse to hold his tongue about opening extremely delicateand untouched natural areas to mining and drilling, such as Grand StaircaseEscalate and Bears Ears in Utah. He would be very vocal about the impact ofrevoking protections on our air, water, forests and endangered creatures. Hewould be irate about the proposal to raise funds for national parks by allowingmineral extraction in them and reducing their staffing and incomes. He would beas busy and active today opposing these types of destructive activities as hewas during his own life.
How would you feelabout him if he were here doing that today? Would you still love him as you didwhen he was simply a historical figure or would you see him as a trouble maker,a crazy environmentalist? If you think he might be opposed to some of your viewsyou may want to ask yourself if you are standing on the right side of history.Fifty years from now will your grandchildren look back with gratefulness forthe oil we pulled out of the earth or for what we've done to protect and saveour wild places, our air, our water and the other creatures that live on thisplanet?
As I think aboutMuir I find myself reflecting on the question of how we should live? Thedefault is to live in such a way that we don't make waves and stay on friendlyterms with all. Yet John Muir challenges us to be one of those who raise theirvoices to preserve and care for this world of ours, to stand against our owndestructive tendencies. Do we live for the short-term benefit of acceptancetoday or do we willingly face the criticism and anger of those who will opposeus knowing that we are standing for the long-term benefit for this earth andour descendants? I want to be one who doesn't cower to hatred, who's willing totake a stand for what is good, even if it isn't appreciated until long afterI'm gone. I want to be on the side of John Muir in today's world. Will you joinme?