I am sitting on my college campus as I write this. The campus its self was entirely unfamiliar to me a year ago. I had to carry around a map so I would not get lost, I also had to bring directions anytime I left campus to go into the local town because I didn't know it very well either. Now this all seems very pedestrian but the odd thing is, I spent quite a bit of my childhood in this area. I was born no more than forty miles away, and traveled to a race track within walking distance for more weekends than I can count during my adolescence.
Today as I sit and write this, I can hear the fast un-muffled cars pacing the world famous turns of this challenging track. Like ghosts of my past. During my youth I was involved with racing and loved the thrill of high performance cars. The amazing designs, augmented by experienced hands and pushed to the limits of physics by talent. Not only did I have some hands-on experience as a family member relied on me as apart of the pit crew, but I was also afforded opportunities to learn from masters of the art of driving.
Then one day I grew up. Simple as that. I realized that day that the fuel being burnt was not unlimited. Worse yet; working in that industry as a general service tech, I was exposing my self on a daily basis to several harsh carcinogens. Compounding my personal misgivings, was the fact that the industry I had chosen as a career was perpetuating a monumental environmental catastrophe. Of course it is disingenuous for me to give the impression this all came to me at once. It took years for me to come to grips with the reality of the situation.
I got a lucky break. I was struggling to transition from being a general service tech in the auto industry into being a motorcycle tech when I had my truck broken into and more than ten thousand dollars worth of tools stolen. At first it was very difficult. Sleepless nights or violent dreams seemed my only options for months.
Then one day it hit me. I got a call from a psudo-friend. The kind of person who only calls when they want something. His car was running funny and asked me over for a beer. When I relayed that I would love to come over for a beer but I couldn't help with his car because I didn't have the tools necessary to fix his problem, our friendship ended quite abruptly. That day I realized that I was no longer trapped in a system that I didn't like any longer. That was the day I claimed my freedom.
Today I devote my self to preventing the very environmental issues I once perpetuated. I still love cars and going fast, but not at the expense of air quality or contributing to global climate change. We need austerity, but not the fiscal kind enforced on the poor by the wealthy elite. We need resource consumption austerity. It must be universal, with everyone from all walks of life limiting the wanton consumption that plagues "civilized" countries. America can be leaders in this paradigm shift. If not for the citizens of today, but for the Americans of tomorrow.