Article 2: A Voice for Wilderness by John Muir (1901, 1912)
John Muir was a conservationist and a strong proponent of keeping the wilderness undisturbed. To him nature was “a window opening into heaven, a mirror reflecting the Creator”. He believed every human being had a desire for natural beauty. Nature fed the spirit, gave calm to the soul and healed the body. This article is about his battle against the damming of Hetch Hetchy Valley to save Yosemite National Park. Eventually he lost this battle and the dam was built. It is said this loss contributed to his early death.
His writing uses biblical imagery and principals to convince his readers that nature is god’s gift to man and to tamper with nature will lead to our demise. The industrialists and the commercialists were like those merchants in the New Testament that set up a market in the holy temple for personal gain. He angrily wrote instead of lifting their eyes to the Creator of the mountains they lift their eyes to the Almighty Dollar. The imagery of the first garden destroyed by the devil was going to continue until all the gardens of the world would eventually end up the same way.
This writing is almost a century old yet the arguments are even more critical today. With larger issues such as global warming, global food and fuel shortages, it is difficult to believe one small voice might be heard over all these issues. Yet, if one small voice is merged with another and another and another this voice would become thunderously loud and difficult to ignore. We must stop to count how many gardens we have left in the world and then merge together with John Muir’s voice in the wilderness until the whole world listens.