A response to the Gulf Coast oil spill might be to begin riding your bike to work. Sure oversight by the government and more responsible policies on the part of BP might have prevented or delayed the disaster, but as long as our culture places such a high value on automobile transportation and as long as our infrastructure necessitates it, the disasters are going to happen. The demand for oil is so high that corporations will stop at nothing to extract it and it is not in our politician's best interest to make or enforce regulations of it. I wish that corporations would choose to what is best for the citizens of the world even if it is not good for their pocketbook and I wish that politicians would make a stand for what is right even if it is unpopular, but I don't expect this to happen. I imagine that if I were a CEO or a politician it would be as hard for me to make the decision to choose against deep-water drilling or to propose legislation banning deep-water drilling as it is for me to choose against car ownership. This leads me to wondering if I should expect other people to make choices that are not in their own self-interest. I would like too, but then I wonder if people can expect me to act in opposition to my own interests.
When you consider that we tend to act in our best interest (as noted by the safety infractions on the part of BP), the bicycle appears to have immense potential. The bicycle is considered by most people in the world to be solely a form of recreation or even just a child's play thing. Many people enjoy riding everyday or only occasionally, but they fail to recognize the good that could come from splicing this fun into their daily routine. Our society puts immense boundaries between work and leisure. If we could break down this boundary (this would mean allowing ourselves to not mind being sweaty in the grocery store) and choose to replace the 40% of car trips that are within one to two miles of the home with walking or biking, we would be able to act in our own self interest while concientiously objecting to the war in Iraq, global warming, and deep-water drilling. We could selfishly enjoy the feeling of speeding down a hill with wind in our hair or the peaceful meditation of a walk while preserving creation. If we already run errands and ride bike or walk for fun, we should combine them. It would be good for us and good for the world.
I like to imagine what it would be like if I could expect myself and others to act in the best interest of others (against our own interest). This might entail accepting higher taxes and social services, advocating for humane immigration reform, or occasionally riding our bikes in the rain.
We spent today with Joe's aunts Marla and Ann. Tomorrow we ride to his grandparents'. After that we head off into wild and wonderful West Virginia. See y'all in Harrisonburg on Thursday!