Gas Pump Blues, Part II

May 22, 2008

“If you think $40 a barrel is bad, wait till it reaches $60, then $80 then $100 plus. The golden age of cheap and plentiful fuel is over, so we’d better get used to it.”

–Posted by “Rob” from New Zealand
BBC News Blog
May 24, 2004


Jeepers! “Rob” really called it, didn’t he? Way back in 2004! 

Well, in 2008, you don’t need a crystal ball to see that there’s no way around this: We’ve got to rethink the whole business of “getting from here to there” so that it can work to our advantage, and not our detriment.

I’m no big-time social anthropologist, but I have noticed this—and I’m sure you have, too: A vast number of American people continue to be deeply influenced by this “frontier-freedom gene” of ours, the one that had our forebears getting an itch—or a “hankering”, back then—and then racing off on some solo tangent with singular determination until they’d reached that faraway place, or that faraway dream.

That’s the gene that had them going out west. Maybe throwing in with a motley throng of gold miners they’d never met, hoping for that lucky strike. Or moving the family to the middle of nowhere because land was sold for pennies there, and who didn’t want a bit of somewhere—even if it was nowhere—to call his own?

That’s the same gene that had a certain kind of man or woman, weary of social norms and human folly, lighting out for the high mountains for good, where only the strongest survived. It’s the gene that saw a humble clerk suddenly heading back east because the family required it, and a job awaited.

In short, we go; and if necessary or desirable, many of us have little trouble picking up and going on our own.

In fact, the freedom afforded by solo endeavors of many kinds appeals in a big way to the people we are. One chair–no waiting!

While this “frontier freedom” trait suggests we possess a high degree of adaptability, our natural-resource predicament now calls upon us to adapt in a dramatically different way. We’ve got to find new ways to think, live, and go—in our immediate environments—and we’ve got to make that a key priority going forward.

To accomplish this, we’ll need to see to it that our instinctive inclination toward spontaneous, unconstrained movement doesn’t work against us. Once we get that sorted in our heads and hearts, we will look at this gasoline craziness mainly as the catalyst in our mapping out a new, promising direction for our energy future.

It would be helpful if we could learn to move and believe as a single people yet one more time, at this critical juncture in American life.

But however we choose to approach it, we mustn’t pin our hopes on any direct effort to lower gasoline prices at this point. With determination and practice, what we can do is a major job on our collective response to the madness—so that price will no longer have the power to bring us to our knees.  


Tomorrow, the wrap-up of “Gas Pump Blues”! 

* * * * * *