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by Laramie Boyd
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The Only Earth We Have
2017 Spectator Ron - The Spectator All Rights Reserved
Your comments about this column are welcome ~ e-mail Laramie at
"The citizens of our American cities enjoy a relative degree of political, intellectual,
and economic liberty. But if the entire nation is urbanized, industrialized, mechanized, and administered, then our liberties continue
only at the sufferance of the technological megamachine that functions both as servant and master, and our freedoms depend on the
pleasure of the privileged few who sit at the control consoles of that machine. What makes life in our cities at once still tolerable,
exciting, and stimulating is the existence of an alternate option, of a radically different mode of being "out there"; in the forests,
on the lakes and rivers, in the deserts, up in the mountains." This is a quote from the book The Journey Home by Edward Abbey, who
was a fire lookout and ranger for the National Park Service. Here are more of his "words in defense of the American west, and other
"Civilization needs wilderness. The idea of wilderness preservation is one of the
fruits of civilization, like Bach's music, space travel, free love, the secret ballot, the private home and private property, freedom
of travel, the Bill of rights, beaches for nude bathing, the right to own or not to own and bear arms, and a thousand other good things,
all of them vital to that great, bubbling, disorderly, unmanageable diversity of opinion, expression, and ways of living which free
men and women love, and which the authoritarians of church and state and war despise and fear.
"We can have wilderness without freedom, but we cannot have freedom without wilderness. We cannot have freedom without leagues of
open space beyond the cities, where boys and girls, men and women, can live at least part of their lives under no control but their
own desires and abilities, free from any and all direct administration by their fellow men."
Abbey believes the dams on the rivers, particularly the mighty Colorado, strip mining for oil and oil pipelines, along with river
rafting, mule descents into the Grand Canyon, and the trash the visitors leave behind, and the trains and buses that make it easier
for tourists to reach the national parks, are a blight on the natural topography and flora and fauna of American deserts and mountains.
He believes no cars should be allowed in the national parks and other tourist visitor sites so that "out there" in the wilderness
can be experienced by foot only, for maximum enjoyment. He supports the preservation of mountain, desert, field and stream habitats
in their natural state, as much as humanly possible, without car horns and gas engine fumes to dirty the clear blue sky. Two other
books by Abbey are Down the River, and his classic contribution to human ecological awareness, Desert Solitaire, "A Season in the
Wilderness." Thought you might enjoy what seem to me to be a different and perhaps crucial perspective on how governments and individuals
have ravaged the only habitable planet that is available to us that we know of.