Thoughts on car culture - 2013

I won’t sugarcoat this with self-righteousness: my primary reasons for finding myself carless are financial, nothing more.

But at the same time, wheels have NEVER been a priority for me. If they were, I’d likely live in a smaller apartment and think nothing of driving an hour each way to work in a cube. I just don’t give a shit.

I’ll grant you that personal ownership of cars has been essential to the growth of our culture. At the same time, I am constantly astonished at the compromises we’ve made in the name of progress.

It boggles my mind that for the last century we’ve entrusted our lives to piloting hulks of steel at breakneck pace, our safety assured only by complicity in the competence and sobriety of strangers to prevent our unplanned discorporation at 50,000 newton-seconds. We dismiss a death and disfigurement toll sufficient to shame any armed conflict with a wave of the hand as the cost of doing business, spackle the cracks with a bloated infrastructure of “insurance” that ensures nothing but a denied claim, a lawsuit, or perhaps a few rotten ducats.

I’m no rabid treehugger – rape the earth? She was asking for it, dressed like that. but even I must bemoan the ravages of petroleum dependence on our environment, our economy, on relationships between the peoples of this small blue lifeboat we share. That blackness was best left in her green belly.

Tell me, citizen, how many hours a week do you toil to feed that iron beast you ride a few hours between prison and freedom? left with neither the time nor the resources to do more than supersize your brood with oil fed corn and corn fed meat.

I am certain I will once again own a car, shine it with pride, wear it as a trophy of victory in battles our ancestors couldn’t imagine. But I hope to never be too consumed by that to bus, bike, walk, dance whenever possible, to engage with the world rather than watch it pass by through a sheet of glass.

The road ahead, to me, seems paved with silicon spirits poised to move our atoms on demand, or better yet, to leave them where they lie. I embrace the substitution of vertical farms for parking structures, slideways for freeways, GoToMeeting for going to a meeting. I toast the day when our pipelines run rich with beer and not the effluent of the last great top predators.

You, yes you. Look around you. Where are you going? Why do you need to be there right fucking now? Gather ye rosebuds, plant them where ye stand, and kiss your gas goodbye.

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Ello