Protecting the Sacred - What Can I Do?

by: EJ on 07/12/2013
Posted in: Climate Change

This week I am giving serious thought to giving up driving.  I don't drive much, but I do use the car to get to places when I am in a hurry, which seems to be pretty much sometime in every day.  It takes about an hour for me to cycle to the village on the island where the shops, library, hardware store, and other services are.  I do know people who live as far as I do from these conveniences and don't drive, so I know it is possible.

Why would I do this?  It is a way of addressing the sorrow I feel for the residents of Lac Megantic, Quebec, for the walkers in the Tar Sands Healing Walk and for the spirit of Gaia overall.  When I look at the moving videos and scenes of destruction coming from both these events I want to act.  I look at my own life to see how I am personally contributing to these disasters - because I am, we all are. 

Our society is completely organized around fossil fuel.  It is not just simply a matter of giving up driving a car.  You have to completely restructure your schedule and lifestyle.  A quick Google search lead me to a few sites with helpful hints on how to live without a car.  Two of the suggestions involved moving or getting a new job.  These are not steps to undertake lightly and have serious impacts on your life and your family. New Society used to have a book entitled, Divorce Your Car.  It has gone out of print.  Hmmm.

Will my not driving really make a difference?  Will I just be inconveniencing myself and my family just to assuage my feelings of guilt and responsibility?  Or will I be a role model? How far will the ripples spread?  Gabriola Island has recently started a pilot public bus system.  If I give up driving, it will immediately mean more customers for the bus service as my family starts looking for alternatives to the Mom taxi. 

One of the most common responses I hear when I chat to people about the tar sands and protests against them is, "Well, did all of those people walk to the protest?"  I am sure that people will point out that the Healing Walk was lead by a pick up truck. Cars are incredibly useful tools and extremely difficult to live without completely. 

I think it is a matter of examining your lifestyle and making the decisions that you can live with.  Not the decisions that are easy and convenient, but ones that you think you can just manage if you really work at it.  Stepping outside the fossil fuel structured lifestyle completely means stepping outside the dominant culture, at least in North America.  I don't even think that it is possible unless you head to the woods like Unlearn Rewild:Earth Skills, Ideas and Inspiration for the Future Primitive author, Miles Olsen.  But I do think that it is possible to work to reduce your dependence on and use of fossil fuel. 

So I don't think I will go cold turkey on driving.  What I will do is stop my careless and frivolous burning of fossil fuel and view each trip in the car for what it really is - another contribution to the tar sands development and an addition of carbon to the atmosphere.  My own personal contribution to climate change.  How important was that trip again?

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