What we do right
Americans have become complainers. Rather than astonishment at our good fortune to be living here and
to be living now, so many Americans – Americans who’ve never felt injustice or hunger – complain. Constantly. Especially about some great Satan called 'government' which is apparently responsible for everything from bulging waistlines to maxed-out Macy’s credit cards, as if owning 17 purses is an inalienable right. I think our country does a lot of things right. Historians a thousand years hence might just marvel at how far we got in transforming a mercantile colony into a representative democracy, laboring to balance personal freedom, diversity and great military and economic power. For me, one of the things we do so very right is managing public lands. People who bristle at the thought of public lands often do so for personal reasons: they want said land for themselves. The small amount of land held in public trust for all citizens not only preserves impossible-to-replace wonders such as the Grand Canyon and the geysers of Yellowstone; this land, for the most part, has been made accessible without destroying it. Yes, some Americans may complain there’s too much access, as if only a few backpackers should be allowed into the lands we’ve designated parks and natural areas. But our brand of democracy depends upon compromise. Our national and state governments - who are, after all, everyday workers like you and me - have done a good job balancing preservation, use, and access. Once in a while, we get something right.
I call this photograph from the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina Legacy in Blue. These hills are protected, yet there are farms and dams in the valleys, and my bad knees and modest income did not prohibit me from enjoying their breathtaking beauty. And you and the bears can still backpack the whole thing.
Copyright RC 2016