The world has always had an oily relationship with oil. America’s relationship with it has been even oilier. We know how bad oil is for us. We’ve seen it wash up on our beaches and murder wildlife wholesale. We know it’s the cause of multiple wars and even mass murder (oil played a part in the Armenian Genocide). We know how toxic it makes our air.
But, hey — there’s a stretch of highway here in California — state route 46 between Cambria and Paso Robles.
Most of it’s two or three lanes — but wide, very wide — and with big, gentle curves as the road navigates a pass in the coastal mountains and either drops down onto the coast or slowly segues from beautiful rolling hills into vineyards as far as the eye can see. The view, looking south from this stretch of road (at about 2500 feet elevation) — toward Morrow Bay and Morrow Rock in the far distance (the views above by day and by twilight) — to call it breathtaking is an understatement. The hardy can bike ride here. The rest of us need a car or a truck or a Harley. And those things all need oil to get us to that nirvana.
What’s an oil lover to do about an addiction that’s killing us — about a love we fear we can’t live without?
“I wish I knew hot to quit you!” Boy, do we know how Jack Twist feels, amiright? In Brokeback Mountain, Jack knows what this difficult love has cost him — any kind of peace in his life. Ennis Del Mar will learn the same hard lesson in the end. For Jack and Ennis, there was no choice. Their worlds didn’t allow for much choice, least of all that one. More’s the tragedy.
For us and oil however — we can go one way versus the other. We don’t have to deny our love until it’s too late (and whatever creature comforts we still have, alas, they’ll never assuage our broken hearts!). Neither answer’s pain free. But one — turning away from fossil fuels now and definitively — might give us a chance to live to love another day. Doing nothing — the conservative preference because it’s all about conserving the past — is always the most expensive option despite it’s “free” price tag. “Keeping things as they are” has motivated more corruption in the history of human beings than any other sentiment. Invariably those wanting to “keep things as they are” (conservatives wanting to conserve the status quo) will be more corrupt (having things already) than those wanting humanity to progress away from the status quo so that society’s have-not’s can finally have. Having nothing makes it waaay harder to be corrupt. You have zero with which to corrupt others to do what you want.
Both sides don’t “do” corruption because both sides don’t start in the same place with the same stuff in their pockets. The first problem any alcoholic or drug-addicted person must own is the fact of their own addiction. Contrition of a kind — acknowledgement of the harmful, self-destructive behavior or its trigger mechanism — must precede healing. By insisting that “both sides do it”, our news media cynically accused EVERYONE — both sides — of being equally corrupt in everything they did and said. They conveyed to their audience the false idea that because Republicans did things for political reasons — suppressing Democratic voters — that 1) Democrats do it too and 2) when Democrats react to Republican voter suppression, they (Democrats) are being just as political as the Republicans are being. “Both sides are doing it”.
But, a Democratic voter demanding justice because their right to vote has been screwed with isn’t reacting politically. They’re reacting to a crime — as that crime’s victim. The crime has a political component — but ONLY in that politics are what’s motivating this Republican criminal behavior. It is a CRIME to violate another American’s right to vote. In any way. It’s not a matter of degrees. One can’t say “Well, this American’s right to vote was only violated 20% — it’s not that big a deal”. If you violate another American’s right to vote by a fraction of one percent, YOU’VE VIOLATED IT same as if you’d gone the Full (Violation) Monty.
Only white people — having had full political power since the founding — could possibly look at anyone else’s rights with a scale in mind.
But, I digress. Talking about corruption does that to me. We were talking oil and addictions and facing truths we’d rather not face.
Post World War II America soared with confidence. Our emotions about who and what we are got the better of us. Our conviction that American democracy could save the world caused our stumble into Vietnam. It caused the mission swap in Afghanistan. And oil caused the American invasion of Iraq. I’ve always wondered if a big reason we went to war wasn’t because the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (the House of Saud) wanted to punish Saddam Hussein for thumbing his nose at them and selling his oil cheap on the black market. America has for too long been the House of Saud’s oil bitch.
Oil lubricates more than just machine parts. It made full industrialization possible because it made traveling (or transporting products) greater distances at greater speeds far easier. Oil increased human productivity exponentially — for better and worse. It made getting places easier. Made tourism a Big Business. Made war truly horrifying. And it made a handful of human beings staggeringly wealthy.
Thus corruption begins. Hmmmmm… corruption. We’re back here again, are we?
Admitting bad behavior is hard. So is admitting complicity. But, getting healthy demands we own up. The alternative to getting healthy is a planet fewer people can live on — many because where they used to live is now under water. That will absolutely impact literally every other human being in myriad ways. We really are all n this together.