I went to Luray Caverns yesterday, I place I used to love visiting! This trip wasn’t like any other, however, and I know that it is because of what I have learned in Global Problems and other environmental science classes. Despite the fact that the tour guide explained very loudly and clearly that NO ONE is to touch the rocks due to the sensitive nature of their formation processes, I saw at least 20 GROWN ADULTS putting their hands on everything they saw! What really blew my mind and infuriated me was one instance in which a little girl told her father several times, “Daddy! You aren’t supposed to touch!” His response: “Aw, it’s fine. They just have to say that.” Next thing I know, the little girl was putting her hands on the rock walls and running them alone the sides as we moved through the tour.
I guess you could say I had an epiphany in down in those caverns. If mankind hand never stumbled upon these caverns, gone down and illuminated them, then the beauty of this place would NEVER be seen by a single soul- it would forever remain a glorious secret in the darkness.
Had humans never discovered Luray Caverns (and others like it), then I guess you could say there would be a great loss of opportunity to appreciate the beauty of nature. There’s no denying, something “magical” happens when feel completely awestruck by the infinite power and beauty of nature. We feel a deep, spiritual, primal connection to the earth in places like this. This connection is what has inspired me and many others to dedicate our lives to protecting these places. Therefore, this is a certain necessity for people to be allowed to experience this feeling of connection to nature.
The problem is, you can love something to death. I fear that within the next 100 years or less, Luray Caverns will no longer be an awe-inspiring place of wonder- but a memory of what once was. So I ask this question: How do we bring mankind into contact with nature- so that he or she may be filled with the love and inspiration it brings- without destroying that very nature?