The word Adirondack is believed to come from a Mohawk word that means “eater of trees.” The park that bears its name covers over 6 million acres of land and has over 10,000 lakes within it, which breaks down to roughly one lake for every 13 year-round residents.
In 1892, the park was established by New York State for “the free use of all the people for their health and pleasure.” Three years later, the State of New York amended its Constitution to proclaim: “the lands of the state, now owned or hereafter acquired, constituting the forest preserve as now fixed by law, shall be forever kept as wild forest lands. They shall not be leased, sold, or exchanged, or be taken by any corporation, public or private, nor shall the timber thereon be sold, removed, or destroyed.”
The ability of the park to withstand legal challenges to its preservation led the United States to use it as a model when, in 1964, the Congress passed, and Lyndon Johnson signed into law, the Wilderness Act, after over sixty drafts and eight years of work. Today, the United States have 110 million acres of protected land, or 5% of the country, thanks in part to the inspiration provided by the astounding natural beauty of the Adirondacks.
One hundred years ago we were grinding our way between two world wars. The first one, coupled with a global pandemic, created the greatest loss of human life in history to that point. The second one would shatter that record. Two parts of the second one – the concentration camps of Germany and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – were the jolts our species needed to conclude that our technology was running well ahead of our morality.
A few days ago we passed the 76th anniversary of the Japanese surrender that ended the second world war. From the time that our species emerged, about 300,000 years ago, until August 15, 1945 – from the time we killed each other with rocks and spears until we did it with split atoms and Zyklon B – we clung to the belief that brutality could be harnessed for positive ends, even as we came to worship as prophets and gods those who told us that the path of violence was the wrong one.
The sight of a mob of gun-toting idealogues should sicken any of us, regardless of the ideology behind them. The time when the problems of humanity needed to solved with brutality are behind us. Anyone who advocates for it now is choosing that path.
It would be a fool’s dream, in 2021, to think that the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, ending our country’s longest war, might be the beginning of the end of war. But there are a lot worse things than being a fool.
We’re willing to be the world’s clowns, if that’s what it takes to promote peace.
The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.
Trust is the thing we have lost, and it is killing us. We trust no authority, a healthy impulse that has overgrown its usefulness, like taking too much medicine. We do not trust journalists, police officers, teachers, politicians, scientists, or religious leaders, and for good reason. There are people in each of those professions who have abused the privilege of their position and pissed in the well that we all need to drink from. But most of the people doing those jobs are doing them with a clear conscience and the best of intentions. Most of them have devoted – some have even risked and lost – their lives in the hope of making our society better. It is in the interest of those who want to destroy our society to make the rest of us cynical. It is up to us to trust each other, and also to be worthy of that trust.
It’s been a long time since we were together
Visiting with Jeff
And other old friends in the cemetery
Who no longer need wings to fly
That old song came on the radio
As we rolled slowly through the bones
And over in the distance,
Through the haze of the incinerated west,
Stands the city itself,
Home to the palace of dreams,
Shedding another tear for
Her lost and loyal son
Love seems such a flimsy net to catch so much. So many beasts, capable of tearing a man to shreds, get tangled in its soft web.
Stories are the only creatures to escape from the net.
One tells itself:
To love just one,
and lose that love,
and find it fugitive, hiding from itself,
terrified of each trembling reflection caught between the light and dark.
I saw it with my only eyes
and felt it beating in the same old
heart that I found in a womb
and lost in places where only the
lonesome flowers grow.