Over the centuries, our view of wilderness has changed. We have shifted from being in nature to thinking that it is a waste and is to be exploited and used. This thought showcases the need to protect wilderness areas.
Humans were once completely oblivious to the wilderness around them because they were indeed part of it. This was before the adoption of agriculture, which gave birth to civilization. Humans, therefore, created the notion of what we deem now as wilderness. The meaning of wilderness has changed countless times since humans saw themselves as a separate entity from the natural world.
Changing View of Wilderness
When Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden to live out there lives in the wilderness, the landscape was said to be barren, desolate and a place where the devil resided. This perspective continued for thousands of years and perpetuated the thought that nature must be fought and essentially conquered. This line of thought changed drastically in the 1800’s when adventure in wilderness was commercialized. Wilderness was seen as sublime and was romanticized. The American frontier was based on some of the same principles but more in the direction of a raw environment that was seen as a challenge.
Separation from Nature
As human impacts on the environment have increased, people have found a need to attach an almost sacred meaning to “wilderness”. The landscape began to take on an almost supernatural feeling, a feeling that God was present in places where humans barely visited. Even though wilderness stayed relatively the same, our views towards it evolved. As the frontier lifestyle became nostalgic wilderness became tamer. Wilderness had become a place outside of time, a reflection of the past that our societies lost long ago. It is getting harder and harder for humans to interact with the nature in a moral and sustainable manner. Are we already past the point where we can do anything? Protection is important but we should look at how we can be an integral part of the environment so that protection is a natural process.
We have separated ourselves from nature for so long that we mirror our beliefs directly upon it. Our view of wilderness has changed, but has the wilderness changed? Even though nature stays relatively the same the meaning of it is always shifting and that is in how we perceive it.