Friday, June 30, 2006

Zion [Original]



Zi·on P Pronunciation Key (zn) also Si·on (sn)
n.
The historic land of Israel as a symbol of the Jewish people.
The Jewish people; Israel.
A place or religious community regarded as sacredly devoted to God.
An idealized, harmonious community; utopia.


Zion National Park is an American place. It is startlingly gorgeous, grand, one-of-a-kind and also over run with tourists and cars. It is as if we must mark our territory with asphalt instead of urine. We were so inspired, awed and threatened by such a display of natural beauty that we felt we had to make it our own. Now any one can hop a bus and caravan into and through the carved out valleys that are sheltered on either side by jagged, striped monoliths. All in the comfort of air conditioning and snack food.


I admit, I drove through it too. And took a hike. But being in that place made me wish I'd worked a little hard to get there. To see such amazingly rugged beauty so easily made me realize how easily we fall into taking for granted these kinds of places. Looking down from a cliff onto the snake-like curves of the road below also made me realize our smallness. We put a damn road right through one of the biggest mountains in the park (not to mention the one that looks the most like a church) but it means nothing. Big deal. The mountain still wins and its rock will stand longer than the asphalt of our silly roads.



Now if there were oil or gold in those hill, maybe those rocks wouldn't last. We'd be up to our destructive tricks. I just hope they don't lay down any more tar -- just more trails. More of us need to make use of our legs and work a little bit harder for doses of eco-tourism. Next time, I'll bring a tent.

A place with a name that means, "An idealized, harmonious community; utopia", in my book would be free of roads through mountains. But I guess this is why 'utopia' implies 'cannot exist'.

[Photos taken by Justina Mintz, justina@justinamintz.com]

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