Political movements that catch the publicâ€™s imagination can spread like a prairie fire across the nation. From town to town, state to state, the movementâ€™s idealism is spread by word of mouth â€” fanned by media coverage and todayâ€™s internet â€” and fueled by millions of people wanting to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
The political movement that most fits this description today is global warming. Al Goreâ€™s book â€œAn Inconvenient Truth,â€? and the subsequent movie have done much to popularize the issue in recent months, taking off from previous works on environmental issues, including Bill McKibbenâ€™s landmark book, â€œThe End of Nature.â€?
In an attempt to harness the eagerness of people to embrace this issue and make it the number one cause on Americaâ€™s agenda, a well-publicized five-day walk is scheduled for Labor Day weekend starting in Ripton and ending in Burlington. That the walk starts in Ripton has much to do with the fact that McKibben lives there, that Robert Frostâ€™s writing cabin is there, and that Middlebury College student Will Bates and a few others who helped organize the walk, could imagine no better place to reflect on Earthâ€™s beauty and the reasons why it is so important to protect what is within our ability.
This column has dedicated several recent pieces on this issue, including a commentary by McKibben in Mondayâ€™s issue, so we wonâ€™t belabor the environmental issues further. But we will encourage area residents to join the walk; to make time in your lives for a cause that is more important than any other on the horizon; to stand up and be counted in a movement that demands the actions of ordinary citizens for the tin-eared politicians of our country to recognize its importance.
If the march draws a few dozen or perhaps a 100 or so on Sunday night and Monday, it will make for nice photos in the local dailies along with a few stories. If it attracts hundreds, or more, the story could make the national news and the prairie fires might spread.
Most of us know the message is that important; the question is how much of our personal time and energy are we willing to expend to make the point felt across the country. We all have to ask ourselves: Just how important is this issue and what can we, as individuals, do about it?
This walk â€” even joining for a few hours â€” provides a way to be a part of the solution. Details of where the walk goes each day and the precise schedule of events can be found at www.fromtheroadlesstraveled.org.
Angelo S. Lynn