Jimmy Carter & Wilderness

TR6204Because I had a funeral to officiate at on Monday I did not get a chance to watch much of the President’s inauguration.  From what I’ve read and some of the images I’ve seen it must have been a grand event.  Many years ago I had the privilege of attending a presidential inauguration, that of Jimmy Carter.  I was in college at the time and my history professor, who was a member of the Electoral College, invited some students to go to Washington, D.C. with him.  I am very thankful I had a chance to be a part of that trip.  It was wonderful!

AK-Kenai-Fjords-NP-Exit-Glacier-(v)I realize that that there are many who do not feel like Jimmy Carter was a very good president but I have to admit I’ve always admired him.  Part of the reason for my admiration is his faith.  Carter has never been hesitant to speak of his religious convictions.  He taught Sunday School while in office and continues to do so.  I also admire greatly what Carter has done since leaving the Oval Office.  His work through the Carter Center has had a positive effect on millions of people.  I was once at a denominational meeting where Carter spoke.  He was introduced as the first President who used that office “as a stepping stone to greater service.”

Still another reason why I like Jimmy Carter is his love for the outdoors.  While President he was a proponent for environmental issues and also supported the national park system.  I actually believe that this had something to do with his faith.  Why?  Carter once said, “I have never been happier, more exhilarated, at peace, inspired, and aware of the grandeur of the universe, and the greatness of God than when I find myself in a natural setting not much changed from the way He made it.”

AGPix_summers402_0802_Lg[1]When one is cognizant of God’s hand in nature and awed by its beauty he or she cannot help but want to be good stewards of Creation.  Such a person recognizes the need to preserve wilderness areas and to support those places already protected.  These places are valuable in and of themselves but also, as Carter saw, as sources of happiness, exhilaration, peace, inspiration and experiences with God.

Wouldn’t it be great if our current elected officials recognized the spiritual value of wilderness?  I suspect some of them do.  Others, I fear, do not.  It is important that we all do our part in helping our elected officials to see the connection.  After all, they are the ones who will make the decisions about whether wilderness areas are preserved and our national parks are properly funded.  Perhaps now would be a good time to let your Senators and member of Congress know how you feel.  Don’t wait until it’s too late.

–Chuck

(I took the top image at Theodore Roosevelt National Park (ND), the middle image at Kenai Fjords National Park (AK), and the bottom image at Dolly Sods Wilderness Area (WV).)