As part of our national conversation around white privilege, the outdoor recreation industry and wilderness preservation advocates are acknowledging, this year, that race and income influence access to nature.
Inclusion and exclusion are key themes of the conversation because, while some want more people to experience the wilderness, others want fewer people to have that privilege. The “let’s include everyone” side believes that people won’t care about protecting nature until they’ve been immersed in it. The other side worries that wilderness is being loved to death by visitors. I know that wilderness needs my voice more than my footprints, but I keep hiking, and I want more people to have that opportunity.
My life in the mountains has been an unearned, undiluted privilege. When I can finally return to the mountains, with each step I take, I’ll pray:
Thanks, God, and help me acknowledge and wrestle with my new awareness. Help me use my privilege in ways that make mountaintop experiences accessible to all, not just the few. And may those wide-open wilderness doors convert all of us into fervent stewards of your most magnificent creation.
This message is an excerpt from “Missing mountains” by Anne Basye in the November 2020 issue of Gather magazine. Today we remember Oscar Arnulfo Romero, bishop of El Salvador, martyr, who died in 1980.