A boy scout leader topples rock formations in a state park and lives to laugh about it.
Yes, he’s going to serve his time, but I shudder to think about the damage he’s already done. Some say it’s just a rock. Maybe it’s a rock, but it’s also a natural, ancient part of the Earth that incited wonder and beauty and reflection. What’s more incredible than that? He is a bully of nature, and did it just because he could. Without a thought. Without a care. Without remorse.
I’m happy to say that the general response by Americans has been outrage and has labeled him as an idiot who unfortunately was misdiagnosed as a troop leader and put in charge of growing young men. But, it concerns me greatly that he’s not the only careless person who doesn’t think twice before inflicting irreparable damage on our natural places and, perhaps even more importantly, on the growth of our youngest citizens.
If a young person watches you push over a million year old rock, they are going to grow up thinking they can do it too. If they watch you leave food open at your campsite, or steal petrified wood, or throw rocks in a geyser, or leave litter along the road, or trample delicate growth off a trail, they are going to do it too. If they watch you laugh at your own carelessness, they are going to laugh too. If they watch you treat our natural places as if they were disposable, they will do so too.
It’s that simple.
In order to teach our children to be respectful of nature, we have to be so too. All of us. After all, it only takes one bad apple to show millions of children how not to be.
Today I leave you with a photo I captured upon walking past a picnic table in Channel Islands National Park last summer. It seems another brilliant group of people left all their food sitting out while they went touring. Who found it? The native Island Fox who has learned to hunt for food in the scraps of humans, instead of in the natural manner that will ensure his long-lasting health. Another example of how the thoughtless carelessness of visitors can have lasting, permanent, negative effects on the very things we love the most, and are trying to protect.
We are constantly being watched by the next generation of park-goers and park-protectors. Let’s try to set a good example.