Like any other human made symbol, we as humans are responsible for how we use the idea of wilderness.
Any substantial conversation about wilderness needs to include this acknowledgement: That just because a place is unfamiliar to me does not mean it isn’t or hasn’t been home to others.
The history of the doctrine of Manifest Destiny is a tragic example of how one group of people - white settlers - used the symbol of wilderness (the idea that the continent was vacant and their’s for the taking) to justify violent acts toward indigenous populations and the forceful cooptation of indigenous lands.
Symbols can be tools that cause immense harm.
Symbols can also tell stories of hope and beauty and possibility. Wilderness is a key symbolic ingredient in the fortitude and tenacity of the American spirit.
Hope and harm. Grit and glory. The idea of wilderness is complicated.
I hope that in recognizing the complicated nature of what wilderness is, we can find an invitation into our ability to navigate complicated realities.
That ability to navigate complicated realities, that is our inherent wildness. Our depth of being. Our creative capacity to forge better worlds.
Stewarding, engaging, relating with our wildness requires attention and diligence. It takes practice to be wild whether we are in a designated wilderness place or here at home navigating the other wildernesses of life.
Tend your wildness today. Use it well and wisely.