09 May 2008

Dumping the Pump

Let me just do something I have refrained from doing for the nearly ten years I have been automobile abstinent:  stick out my cyber tongue at all those people upset at the high prices at the pump. I will also applaud all of the citizens of cities like LA and Boston who are 'dumping the pump' and taking the subway to work for a change. 

I for one am over the moon that gas is going to $4 a gallon in the US. People are finally getting out of their cars and turning to public transport - a service that in many parts of the States is severely underfunded hence underdeveloped and thus underused due to lack of demand. Maybe this dramatic increase in the price of gas and the subsequent turn to public transit for relief will remind people that there can be life without the automobile. 

I know, I know, some parts of the country are remote and you have to drive to get 'anywhere'. That unfortunately is the mentality of our nation. It is a huge inconvenience not to be able to get where you want or need to go. You've lost your sense of independence - I got it already! But let's face it, you are totally dependent on a set of wheels and expensive and toxic black sludge that is destroying peoples' lives in other parts of the world (you should see how bad the Nigerians have it and that country is the world's third largest exporter of petroleum. Did I forget to mention all the crazy bloodshed in the Middle East...) and lest you forget, our environment.

And just to make you think another little bit more about my argument today, which I am assuming you are aware of but conveniently forget on a daily basis as you put the key into the ignition, I want you to consider what the word 'automobile' really means when you break it down to its etymological roots. 'Auto' is a prefix coming from the Ancient Greek and means 'self'. 'mobile' is clear - it is an English suffix which implies transport or a vehicle. Based on its own etymology, the automobile is inherently selfish, folks! 

Look, people, I don't have all the answers, but if it is one thing I know, we are going to have to find a solution to live together and in healthy symbiosis with this planet. And there is a solution there. But before we find it, we really have to find the courage to examine our lives and admit how selfishly we really live. And that goes for our entire lifestyle - of which the car is a large part.  A solution means one small person at a time making one small choice and re-managing one's life for a new set of circumstances and maybe even new 'conveniences' (more time, more exercise, less stress, more cash, cleaner air, a higher quality of life?).

So, my car-loving Americans and all you other automobile enthusiasts, have a good, long think. What is the small difference you are willing to make? Many small difference equals one large difference. Drive less. Get on that bus or that train. Create the demand public transit to increase its service. In the grand scheme of things, what you do and the choices you make matter. And while you are at it, stop buying bottled water please.

1 comment:

Tamagosan said...

Ooh, an anti-car rant topped off by an anti-water bottle comment? You've made my day!