Wilderness is not a luxury

It wasn’t until I was 16 when I discovered what I wanted to do in my life. It was then when mountains as elder as time crushed me until I realized where was my place in the world. It was like a deafening noise that couldn’t be heard with the ear, but with the soul, whatever that would be. Since then I come back to Nature, to mountains, trees, rocks, forests, storms or the night sky as if it were a drug, to re-awaken that fleeting sensation of being no more than a small, disposable part of something magnificent.


Today I had been able to feel this from in front of my laptop thanks to this video, created as a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, an American law fostered by The Wilderness Society and issued in 1964. It is regarded as a milestone of conservationism in the United States, as it created the legal definition of “wilderness”. It’s almost too poetic to be part of a law text:

“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

I’ve transcribed the text of the video, just for the record:


“Wilderness is not a luxury, but a necessity of the human spirit.

The greatest wonder is that we can see these trees and not wonder more.

Mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.

Wilderness is a resource which can shrink but not grow. The creation of new wilderness in the full sense of the word is impossible.

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaking, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home, that wilderness is a necessity.

The idea of wilderness needs no defence, it only needs more defenders.

We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in.

We can have wilderness without freedom. We can have wilderness without human life at all. But we cannot have freedom without wilderness.

Wilderness is the raw material out of which man has hammered the artefact called civilization.”

Cole Patrick 1

Words by Edward Abbey, Aldo Leopold, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Muir and Wallace Stegner.

This is the story of how I became an environmentalist, what’s yours? : )

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