Freedom to walk your path
I can go out at any time of day or night for a trek. The freedom to walk along a path is part of our society today. It wasn't always that way and in some countries still isn't.
Many people from free cultures take for granted their enjoyment of various activities. Then they go to another country and do the same. This is not always appreciated by the residents of that land. The fact remains, though, that the visitors had the liberty to go there in the first place. But it has not come lightly.
Last year I stood in a very quiet valley, basking in the peaceful environment. Since then I was reminded of another journey. It was remembering it, when the whole thing hit me.
In the year 1521 AD, something happened that made it possible for me to enjoy that beautiful little valley, nearly 500 hundred years later.
The Martyrs Memorial at Amersham, UK
I didn't even know there were such things at first. A slight mention made my ears prick up. What on earth are you talking about? Why should I care? I decided to go and find out anyways.
This is all wrapped up in what was called the Divine Right of Kings. In the west it came out of the Roman Catholic Religion. Other parts of the world also saw (and still see) kings and the like ruling with religious decree - they do not like, one little bit, their precious boats being rattled.
In the 16th Century, some people believed in something that was not about despotic monarchs and religions. They believed in another Throne, a much higher one. So those with the so called divine right burned them at the stake!
They were called Lollards and had been going for some time. Franciscans were considered such, as were the followers of Wycliffe. Later Puritans, the Pilgrim Fathers and Baptists followed on the basic tenets of the Lollards.
Not only were monarchs upset, so was the Roman Catholic movement and some later Protestant ones. Divine right of Kings was dumped around 1689 in England and supposedly finished around the world in the early part of the 20th Century (so they say).
Western civilization is a direct result of these martyrs. The right to decide what to do with our lives without being forced into a position of subservience by monarchs, aristocrats, religious or military dictators.
In London, England, take the train from Marylebone or Tube to Amersham Rail Station, exit and turn left. At the roundabout (traffic circle), you need to turn left and get on the right side of the road. Go under the bridge and keep walking. You'll eventually see the footpath sign pointing to the Memorial. The path is very narrow, quite steep and in summer could well be grown across. At the top you will see another sign. Narrow walkways are part of the package here as you turn right and go past the rear of the houses to a small green area where the Martyrs Memorial is situated.
Once there, you'll find a seat to sit on or park your day pack while you take stock of just what it is you are looking at.
We wouldn't be where we are now, were it not for people like those whose names are on the Martyrs Memorial at Amersham. They really rattled the tyrants boats.
What does this have to do with backpacking?
The very fact that we can. Their and others deaths, paved the way for the freedom of choice in our society. We cannot have freedom without responsibility, otherwise it becomes anarchy - which is not something they died for.
So the visit here, though somber, actually made me quite thankful.
Feb 01, 2015