European Wilderness Society

Wilderness can also be a home

Wilderness has several interpretations in Europe and one European definition, but few of us interpret Wilderness as a home.

Wilderness was born in the clash of civilisations during times in history. In the period when Europeans started to explore new continents, they came in contact with other civilisations. These civilisations lived in a harmony with nature for millennia. The explorers and pioneers did not noticed that at first. This harmony did not fit to the European concept of civilisation. The result was that they not only conquered the local people, but also the local land. The conquest in this context led often to eradication of local population and devastation of their land.

Momentum detected

Only a few individuals in the past centuries detected this momentum and raised their voice. The land that was used for millennia by local people had still extraordinary value in the eyes of these Europeans. Suddenly, the concept of Wilderness started to grow slowly. Bill Mason very nicely described this momentum in his book:

The word Wilderness is a beautiful word. It is fitting that a beautiful word is used to describe a beautiful land. However, the idea of Wilderness belongs to the white man. To the native people, the land was not wild. It was home. It was where they lived, not a  hostile environment… they had to tame. It was the white men who saw the land as a dangerous place, one that had to be battled, and made to resemble, as much as possible, distant homelands. Today the land, to a great extent, has been tamed.

Bill Mason, Path of the Paddle, Toronto, Van Nostrand, 1980, p.191.

Please Leave a Comment