We've brought you up to the point (John Muir, The father of our National Parks) in John Muir's history where he found a spiritual connection with nature. This was actually a big change for Muir. Growing up with a very Calvinist father, Muir was raised to believe that God had given man dominion over all of the natural world. Slowly, he began to change this view to believe that humans are just a small part of the interconnected natural world.
To share this view, describe the beauty he found, and to advocate for the preservation of nature, Muir took to writing. Hoping that the pen was stronger than the logger's axe, Muir wrote passionate and well-reasoned essays for the largest publications of the time, including Overland Monthly, New York Tribune, and The Century.
Muir's essays were very influential in his time, and brought nature closer to those far from it. They inspired people, even those armchair naturalists, with a mixture of adventure, geology, natural history, politics, and persuasion.
His writing shows us the great love and advocacy he had for our national parks, a spirit which inspired us and our maps at Muir Way. Keep reading for a bit about our favorite John Muir quotes and writing and see the full collection of Muir's articles and books at the Sierra Club's website.
In his writing, Muir lays out the importance of natural public spaces. It is important to note that Muir still believed that natural resources should be used for good uses like building homes and growing food. Though on the other hand, he fought what he called “mere destroyers” like “tree-killers, wool and mutton men, spreading death and confusion.”
In The American Forests (1897), he wrote, “The forests of America, however slighted by man, must have been a great delight to God; for they were the best he ever planted.” If you're reading this blog, you probably already agree with this, but it doesn't hurt to be reminded.
Then he calls on Americans to step up our protection, basically calling us buffoons in comparison to the rest of the world; “Every other civilized nation in the world has been compelled to care for its forests, and so must we if waste and destruction are not to go on to the bitter end...”
Finally, he convinces us that the government has a major role in conserving our forests. “Any fool can destroy trees,” he writes. “God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and thousand straining, leveling tempests and floods; but he cannot save them from fools,-- only Uncle Sam can do that.”
Muir's writings worked. In addition to stirring a national and political sentiment in favor of conservation, Muir and his writings were instrumental in founding Yosemite, as well as Petrified Forest and Grand Canyon National Parks, General Grant and Sequoia National Parks.
With an argument and a passion as clear as that, it's easy for us to name ourselves after John Muir. Our National Park maps are a byproduct of the incredible work he did promoting conservation and natural education.