Abbey, and His Fear of Progress
The day that the gray jeep with the U.S. Government decal and "Bureau of Public
Roads" on it, Edward Abbey knew that progress had arrived. He had foreseen it,
watching other parks like his, fall in the face of progress. He knew that
hordes of people and their "machines" would come (Abbey 50-51). Most people see
progress as a good thing. Abbey proclaims. "I would rather take my chances in a
thermonuclear war than live in such a world (Abbey 60)."
"Prog-ress n. forward motion or advance to a higher goal; an advance; steady
improvement (Webster's)." Is progress really all of that? How can you improve
on mother nature? Progress actually detracts from the parks natural beauty.
Cars, litter, and vandalism can all be attributed to "progress." In this frame
of thinking "progress" kind of contradicts it's self.
The most detrimental aspect of progress is the automobile. "'Parks are for
people' is the public-relations slogan, which decoded means that the parks are
for people-in -automobiles." People come streaming in, driving their cars.
They are in a hurry because they are trying to see as many parks as possible in
their short vacation time. They have to deal with things such as: car troubles,
traffic, hotel rooms, other visitors pushing them onward, their bored children,
and the long trip home in a flood of cars. Many of them take tons of pictures,
possibly so that they can actually enjoy the park without all of the hassles
(Abbey 58). Without leaving their cars they will never actually experience the
beauty and wonderment of the parks. They will only find the stress and chaos
that they sought to leave at home (Abbey 59).
There is a minority though, that prefers to be able to get away from the modern
world completely, and travel throughout the parks on foot, bicycle, or horse.
With these vehicles they can travel on quiet trails that are impassable by
automobiles. These trails will lead them to places where progress has yet to
hit. They can sleep in the open, breath the fresh air, and hear nothing but
mother nature herself. They will never get pushed out of the way buy the rush
of other tourists, cramming to catch a glimpse of the sights (Abbey 59). This
is what I call anti-progress.
Anti-progress is what progress seeks desperately to destroy. The Developers
(progress seekers) want the entire park to be accessible to both man and his
machines(Abbey 55). This means the those nice quiet trails that that hikers,
bikers, and horse riders so enjoy have to be destroyed by paving them with black
asphalt. And along with the road comes the steady stream on noisy, smelly, cars.
Abbey's park, Arches National Monument, was accessible via "traversing a long,
dusty, dirt road" when he wrote about it. It is now a paved road that carries
thousands a year (Little 34). This must be stopped for the sake of all people
involved or the park setting...