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Enjoy life now as we could soon be extinct

Memorial Day weekend approaches and I am keeping an eye out to see how high gas prices jump just before the weekend. If they do go up by Friday, I will be very seriously compelled to become a devout anti-capitalist.

The hundreds of thousands of souls who fought and died for our freedom would be very impressed by the patriotic, community-minded corporate executives of “big oil” in America who are sticking it to their own people.

On the other hand, is it necessary for us to demand and use so much gasoline, regardless of the price? Does our pursuit of happiness really depend on ATVs, motorcycles, dragsters, boats, Jet Skis and RVs? If you think it does you are sadly mistaken, pilgrim.



Given the tremendous financial success of oil companies, however, I have to side with the American people on this issue, especially people for whom gasoline is a major cost of doing business. As self indulgent as we are with our addiction to recreational and non-essential driving, I see no justifiable reason for oil company executives to make the kinds of profits and salaries they make at the expense of their fellow countrymen, many of whom just begin to get ahead financially when, all of a sudden, they jack up the gas prices again.

The modern American way of life, with all it’s good points and bad points, is not something that can be easily avoided. Cars are as necessary as food and water. Without a car to get to work, some people couldn’t buy food or housing. It makes no sense to blame average citizens for having to survive in the kind of world they were born into.



But individual levels of consumption can easily be reduced ” and should be ” unless all you care about is yourself. Sadly, millions and millions of us are that self obsessed.

The brave men and women who fought and died for us, especially those who served in the two World Wars, had a vision that went beyond their own self interests. They saw a threat to freedom and the future of the world and cared enough about generations to come that they decided to do something for them, even if it meant losing their life. Society is not producing enough people of that caliber today.

Education is partly to blame.

As if war and the depletion of fossil fuels wasn’t enough, a recent phenomenon relating to bees, called colony collapse disorder, has people worried. All across the western world bees are disappearing. If bees become extinct, obviously they won’t be able to pollinate the flowers and plants that we depend on for fruit and other essential foods. Without those foods, humans could very well disappear within a few years after the bees have gone.

The cause of this phenomenon is still being studied and debated. Some say cell phones are the culprit. Others say colony collapse disorder is due to herbicides, pesticides, genetically modified crops, maybe even the natural shifting of earth’s magnetic field.

Whatever we are faced with, how willing are we to change our behavior to be happier, let alone prevent our own demise? Is the threat of extinction enough to convince us to go without gasoline and our clever little inventions? If not, we are in big trouble. Happiness will continue to elude us.

Maybe capitalism itself is our greatest threat. I wonder what kind of vacation oil executives will be “happily” enjoying this holiday weekend. Keep an eye on those gas prices.

Human judgment, especially in matters pertaining to our own immediate pleasure and convenience, has always proven to serve us perfectly well in the past, hasn’t it?

Just ask General George Armstrong Custer.

If the threat of extinction won’t change our behavior, extinction itself should do the trick.

Stay tuned for more on extinction in next week’s Grasshopper Soup. It’s such a cheery and appropriate topic for this beautiful spring we are having. Bye bye!

Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, experienced ski instructor and commercial driver. He’s lived at Lake Tahoe for 25 years.


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