I've said it before and I'm going to say it now and I will continue to say it for a long time: the modern concept of "Freedom" in the US is really Anarchy with Benefits.
Americans get really cranky when there are any hitches in our giddyups, when we can't do as we please. We believe "Freedom" is the freedom to do whatever we want. And again, that is anarchy. And since we still want well maintained roads, cops to show up promptly when our neighbors annoy us, cheap health care when we've broken something...and still to be able to do whatever, whenever we want...well, that's Anarchy with Benefits.
True freedom is the freedom from oppression. And that is truly the purpose of democracy. Democracy was not instituted so the citizens of the state could go about consuming resources at an unsustainable rate, robbing from the poor to pad their own pockets, and exploiting third world countries in the name of capitalism. That's not democracy. That's Anarchy with Benefits.
We should be promoting and abiding in freedom from oppression for all. FOR ALL. But as it is we are oppressing, not only our contemporaries in the Developing World, but also our own future generations with our overconsumption and unsustainable behaviors. We are robbing from the future with no care for how our heirs are going to fare. We are oppressing them from the past by taking their share of the Earth's resources.
Many vehemently oppose socialism. And I agree to a point. Socialism in its extreme form is not a healthy economic model. But neither is capitalism. Capitalism has brought us privatized water. Capitalism has brought us wars for resources. Capitalism keeps the jackboot of the fascist capitalistic countries firmly on the necks of the resource rich Third World nations. But because capitalism is flawed we shouldn't immediately turn to socialism or communism. I think we need to find a new economic model.
Profit should never be attached to life giving resources. And I don't mean food or materials for clothing and shelter. I have no problem with an medium of exchange for those things. But WATER should never be withheld from anyone because they can't pay for it. No one should be allowed to own water, air, or naturally available fuel. These things should be a public trust in perpetuity.
To quote Maude Barlow, a long time water activist, as she addressed the UN and as seen in the movie Blue Gold: World Water Wars: "...to call for a United Nations convention that explicitly states that water is a human right and a public trust that must not be denied to anyone on the basis of inability to pay."
And the UN actually listens...
And when a person puts in a day's work that person should be compensated, either in the product of their own energy or in a medium of exchange, in an amount at least equal to a day's needs. And then of course, that person should not spend more in a day than they can earn in a day.
Simple, simple economics.
Back to freedom...when our "freedoms" rob others of their freedom from oppression then our own perceived benefits become evil. Our own actions are oppressive and we become tyrants.
So how does this tie in to a cycling blog? When I choose the bike over the car I am choosing to shun Anarchy With Benefits and I'm reducing my own economic oppression of my fellow human begins, both those alive today and those that will come after. I am choosing a sustainable and responsible form of transportation. I'm saving the world, the whales and my grandchildren from the consequences of bad decisions. I'm conserving both water and fossil fuels. I'm easing the load on the planet and I'm having fun doing it.
In a semi-related vein: I got an email from DRCOG's RideArrangers letting me know if I were only to sign up for their car/vanpooling program, just to give it a try, that I could possibly win two round trip airline tickets on Southwest to anywhere I want to go.
So if I am concerned with reducing my carbon footprint, saving money on my transportation costs or getting out of the SOV I can have the opportunity to completely and totally negate any positive impacts I may have had and fly on a jet plane!
The bicycle CAN save the world.