Thursday, 25 June 2020

Re-Creation

Mount Douglas Park
To walk abroad and re-create yourselves

Moss, mist and mud. Winding trails through shady groves. Sunlight slanting through the trees. Giant cedars, Douglas firs, meadows of Gary oaks, maples, ferns and salal, miners’ lettuce in season. As I walked around Mount Douglas, marvelling at the majesty of this great park, I thought of the governor who set aside this tract of land for the people, and gave it his name. At six hundred and something feet it was only a hill, but they didn't want to insult him. I thought of Beacon Hill Park in Victoria, Stanley Park in Vancouver, Kings Park in Perth, and imagined the others that must have been set aside all over the Empire. It was good public policy.

It was not a new idea, of course. The Romans recognized the importance of “bread and circuses” to keep the masses under control. It was important to keep the people well fed and entertained so that they wouldn’t have rebellious thoughts. According to Shakespeare, Julius Caesar was afraid of one of the conspirators because,

Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look,
He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous.

But there is another aspect to wellbeing. After Caesar’s assassination, Mark Antony, in his funeral oration, swayed the crowd to his side by alluding to a bequest to the people in Caesar’s will:

Moreover, he hath left you all his walks,
His private arbors and new-planted orchards,
On this side Tiber. He hath left them you
And to your heirs forever—common pleasures,
To walk abroad and re-create yourselves.
Here was a Caesar! When comes such another?

Everywhere we go we see people walking in the woods, strolling in a garden, sitting on a rock gazing out to sea. To be contented, we need more than bread and circuses: we need to walk abroad and re-create ourselves, as we do in Mount Douglas Park.

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