Big Paradigm Shift over at the Edge of the Pavement…I've just had enough. No, not on the blog itself but in my lifestyle.
Warning: since I've not been riding much lately this post will be less about cycling specifically, but as previously stated, I think it all relates. Also, this is going to be a long read and I promise at least five light-hearted posts to offset the effects of the doom-and-gloom to follow.
I've always been skeptical of the climate change chest thumpers. I remember hearing in science class how the Earth was moving toward another ice age twenty years ago. And up until recently I've still been harshly against the idea that humans can do enough to impact the climate of the planet. My views have slowly evolved from that to a new outlook which is more of an agnostic "I don't know if climate change is real, but let's pretend it is and err on the side of caution." Is junk food bad for you? Well, it doesn’t matter, carrots are better, so if you eat carrots you're going to be healthier regardless. More on food later.
This recent Grist article has kind of made me see it more along the lines of the Peak Oil issue and I see one thing very clearly: our climate change problems are going to go away when the oil runs out. It's that simple. We're not going to be able to sustain our levels of pollution when there aren't so many pollutants to fling into the skies and dump in the water.
Oh, we'll still have coal, we'll still have nuclear power plants and all the waste we've processed in the past century. We'll have increasingly leaky barrels of all kinds of good filth everywhere. But our ability to produce new poisons are going to be limited to soot from burned coal and wood, human and animal waste and diseased bodies. I hate to be that stark about it, but unless we seriously address our addiction things aren’t going to get better.
On a more positive note (bear with me) I have decided, and Mandy agreed (not a new idea for her) that we need to make a huge change in diet and lifestyle choices. We're stepping away from the processed food table and hopefully we can do it decisively and completely enough that we're not temped to go back anytime soon. I weighed myself yesterday and after my few short days of not being on the bike I weigh 198 pounds. At 5'9" that's just getting to be too much. I'm active. I ride my bike to work and back almost every day for crying out loud!
Hippocrates said: "Let Food Be Your Medicine and Medicine Be Your Food". When you look at what Corporate America has done to our food and our health care it is obvious that those who we have entrusted with our well-being violated that trust in the madness of greed. I, for one, am sick of it. And I know there are those who will start to argue in defense of our modern lifestyle and all its supposed benefits and to quell those arguments I say: Truth is one sided. I don’t need to hear the other side when I've seen overwhelming evidence in my life and documented so pervasively by those who would speak out against the corruption that is apparent that Big Business puts profit before health, safety and welfare. Our food and our medicine are poisons to us. They have caused us to be fat, stupid and lazy. And we defend the "American Way" wholeheartedly as we slurp soda and gobble burgers. I am chief sinner in this respect. I am tired of lending my strength to that which I wish to be free from. No more.
I used to be fit. I used to be active. I used to have energy and drive. I can feel the energy ebbing in me and I know it is not my age. I should have the physical power and stamina to attain my goals. My mind shouldn’t be as foggy as it is.
This revelation has come from recent months as I've read, viewed well regarded documentaries and as I've examined what I knew all along in my life but have been unable to verbalize and articulate in a meaningful way until recently. I've had so many "Ah-HA!" moments I've lost count. I've never really bought into the environmental movement, hippie-fied dogma or the leftwing liberal agenda. And I'm not giving in to all that now. I have always regarded myself as a realist. And it's funny because any time I've mentioned this to others I've been accused of being a pessimist. Could that be because from an optimistic point of view realism seems more negative? If you think the world is all sunshine and rainbows you probably don’t like it when people point to the storm clouds on the horizon.
Americans are dogged optimists in the face of impending doom. And on some levels that's admirable. But being a dogged optimist that refuses to admit that doom could be imminent is a bit blind and naïve. Just sayin'.
Conventional thinking goes like this:
You’re born into the best country on earth. You grow up with loving parents who want more for you than they had themselves as children. You are supposed to go to the "best" schools, get the "best" education. You should always be wearing nice clothes. You should have opportunities to be enriched as a child. You should have opportunity to go to museums, entertainment events, have access to the best digital devices, as much food and toys as you want. You should be safe from all physical harm to a fault. You should never be faced with tragedy or terror. And all of this should be within the context of you being a well-adjusted, attractive, talented child who makes mom and dad proud.
Let's stop there for a moment. Every statement I have made above is a piece of marketing that has been sold to us over the past few decades. Each item is believed to be TRUTH. And somehow we all can see the holes in all of those conventional beliefs, but we continue to believe them like some sort of demented religion.
Trials build character and prepare a child to face the world. We should not deprive our children of the opportunity to face real challenges, not some mockery of challenge out on the football field, but real challenges that make souls. Excessive comfort breeds complacency and apathy. There is nothing wrong with being cold in winter or having a grumbly tumbly between meals. Sometimes you get splinters in the real world and sometimes you fall down. Those experiences better prepare us to avoid more dangerous experiences in a real world. Grief is a natural part of life. When we buffer ourselves from hardship and hard work we rob us of our God given opportunities for health and well-being.
Conventional thinking continued:
You grow up presumably well adjusted. You've graduated with an acceptable GPA and test score. You go to an approved college. You accept the debt as part of your "American Dream" dues and you graduate in six (or seven, or eight) years and fail to get a good paying job. You struggle to pay the bills on your two cars and suburban house with a three car garage full of stuff that is not three cars. You participate in all kinds of requisite activities. Your kids all play sports, just like you did, you go to movies on date night, rent movies on Netflix, keep in touch with old friends and acquaintances on Facebook and you make an appearance at church every once in awhile. Or not.
You don't think too long or too hard about the big issues. Someone will find a solution to our energy problems. We're (The US) too big to fall. We've accomplished so much in such a short time. We're more advanced that ancient societies. We're more efficient. We've conquered most disease and hardship that our ancestors suffered through. Why worry about the future? It'll take car of itself. Right?
Why are we better? What proves that we've got it all figured out? All the great empires of antiquity failed. None persist. Some were amazingly advanced. Why can't we fail? What magic shield do we have that protects us from the same calamities of history. We have warning, in the media it seeps through. What would happen if SARS went airborne and global? What would happen if a few key economic pillars were to fail simultaneously? What if global warming is real?
Everything in America today is a mockery of something we have avoided in the natural environment. We drive miles to gyms for our health and we're still not healthy. We suck on entertainment for social sustenance and the society represented within popular entertainment is totally fictitious. We've crafted virtual social interaction because we've distanced ourselves geographically from each other. Our workplaces involve abstract ideas shifted around to appease those with no ability for abstract thought.
I said I wasn't a leftwing, extremist liberal. And neither am I an extremist rightwing "conservative." You can’t imagine how disgusted I am that the right calls itself "conservative." I don't go on these rants often, especially infringing on a small place in my life where I go to express my less serious side. But here it is. Its ALL related. My growing abhorrence of motorized vehicular transport is leading me down a path of clearer thinking. I've tried to keep my distance from the neo-hippie crowd for so long. And I imagine I will continue to do so from an political and religious standpoint. I can no longer in good conscious ignore the truth in much of the environmental movement. Our addiction to oil is clouding our judgment and decision making. Our abidance of Corporate lies and interests in our lives is destroying the dwindling inheritance and legacy we leave to our children. This is self evident.
I promise this blog won't turn into a nasty political soapbox, but I wanted to give a preface to where I'm coming from these days. I don't believe the evidence shows that we can continue business as usual indefinitely. But our policies, laws and cultural thinking support the notion that we can. I want my children to be healthy and to have a healthy respect for the world and not take for granted where we stand on this Earth.
Rant over. Don't think less of me if you disagree with my viewpoints. I promise I am not angry at you. I feel like no matter what the truth about all this is, that we've been enshrouded in such a cloud of uncertainty about the facts by so many who are only out for profit that the only way to weather all of this is to err on the side of caution. I'm going to ride my bike. I'm going to stop relying on fossil fuels for my food and my ability to provide for my family. It makes sense no matter what you believe about everything else.
Go ride your bike!