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 Post subject: Climbing Sacred Things
PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2017 4:59 am 
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The day before yesterday I hiked the Tongariro Alpine Crossing on the North Island of New Zealand. It passes between two volcanoes, Mount Tongariro to the north and Mount Ngauruhoe (which was used for Mt Doom in the LotR films) to the south. Previously it was possible to climb both these mountains. Now, however, they are closed to climbing due to being sacred to the Maori.

In today's news, I saw something announced which is long-anticipated - Uluru will be closed to climbers from October 2019. The Anangu People have long-discouraged people from climbing it for religious reasons, but now an actual ban will be enforced. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park has since been handed back to the Anangu, so they have control over its management.

As I wrote here previously, I have climbed Uluru and I wouldn’t have exchanged the experience for anything. It was one of the high points of my life. I don’t think I’ve ever been more struck by a landscape, or more impressed with just how unique Australia can be compared to the parts of the world where most people live. On a personal level, I’m saddened that future generations will not get the same experience.

I’m also trying to come to terms with the question on how far the government of a secular country should go in enforcing religious belief. My default position is that something should not be illegal for no other reason than it offends the adherents of a particular religion. Obviously climbing a sacred mountain is different to, for example, eating pork, as there is only one sacred mountain and you can’t exactly climb it in private. I wouldn’t eat pork in Mecca, for example. But Australia is my country, its national parks are supported through my taxes, and its constitution forbids the government from enforcing religious observance.

I was less-concerned about the ban relating to Tongariro and Nguaruhoe because the crossing does pass through some spectacular scenery and climbs high enough to give you great views. Uluru is the only large object on a flat plain, so you don’t get to see too much unless you actually climb it. I was also unimpressed with how the National Park and the tourist facilities at Yulara were managed, which might have swayed my judgement. I also needed to pay to get into Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, but not Tongariro.

I really dislike the idea of further marginalising an already very-marginalised people. But I also don’t believe I should be compelled to follow their religion.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2017 5:17 am 
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Meanwhile...
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Edit - never mind, I started looking things up and the rabbit hole is to deep to explore.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2017 9:13 am 
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Throw me a rope.
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Túrin, I completely get it, as I feel the same ambivalence.
I wonder how I'd feel, though, if Uluru had always been closed to climbing so I had never seen photos of tourists on top of the rock.

I suspect part of it is my lizard brain influenced by envy: if they could, why can't I?

Sent from a tiny phone keyboard via Tapatalk - typos inevitable.

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