The great writer and environmentalist Wallace Stegner put into perspective a profound notion that has changed the world.
“The national park idea, the best idea we ever had,” he once wrote, “was inevitable as soon as Americans learned to confront the wild continent not with fear and cupidity but with delight, wonder, and awe.”
In 1903 when President Theodore Roosevelt dedicated the opening of the world’s first national park the entry was marked with a monument to the understanding that the natural world is where everyone can find the basic human freedoms we all seek throughout our lifetimes. The inscription over the Roosevelt Arch Yellowstone Gateway reads to this day, “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People”
To call the national parks America’s best idea is to imply, if not categorically state that the setting aside of public land is at the very heart our democracy. The freedom to roam in wild places can therefore be listed as well among those inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They are indeed to true realization of the highest ideal of what it means not only to be a citizen of the United States of America but also a human being.
So it should be no surprise that even the most ancient of civilizations might recognize and warmly adopt the wisdom of this most self-evident truth. Here in Tanzania I have had the great pleasure to enjoy with delight wonder and awe the national parks at Arusha, Tarangerie, Serengeti, Ngronogoro Crater and Manyara Lake. Modeled after the American concept to preserve and protect habitat for thousands of unique animal species it is fair to suggest that the national parks are also Africa’s Best Idea.
The Joy Trip Project is made possible thanks to the support of Ombeni African Safaris
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