Sometimes the thunder of the herd haring off across the cultural landscape gives me a headache. It turns out that a successful social media campaign has led to the election of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as The Most Beautiful Place in America by viewers of ABC’s Good Morning America. The ones who voted anyway. Plus all the Michiganians who don’t generally watch GMA but participated enthusiastically in the campaign to encourage more Tourist People to visit the Third Coast.
I am all in favor of telling the world about the very pleasant ways it is possible to spend a vacation in the Mittens. I am a big fan of Sleeping Bear, which is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been in Michigan. Looky here:
But how silly is it to vote for a place as the most beautiful in America? Seriously, have you been everywhere in America? You have not. No one has. So maybe it is the most beautiful place you have seen, but that’s about all you can maintain with any integrity.
And how silly is it to say that the heart-rending glory of Big Blue spread out before you as you stand on the dune rising 400 feet into the cloudless sky . . . how silly is it to say that is more beautiful than the soul-filling majesty of the Rocky Mountains? Or the mysterious shapes and colors of the great Southwestern deserts? Or the forested wilderness of the Boundary Waters? The green, green Pacific Northwest? New England in autumn? North Carolina in springtime? The Lost Coast of California? It is very silly.
There is no one most beautiful place here or anywhere else. There is simply beauty, everywhere in the world, and to each eye one special place that is most beautiful. The song isn’t America the most Beautiful. It is America the Beautiful, and so it is, from sea to shining sea.
Might as well choose one child over the others.
[Note: PJ Grath has done a much better job of writing about this over at Books in Northport, but I decided what the heck. Waste not want not.]