Friday, April 27, 2007

Know thyself, or how Fred saves me lots of money... It is extremely interesting watching the media as scientists and oil companies' "scientists" wrestle over the implications of fossil fuel use, and as we attempt to weigh the issues and make decisions that we may not know will have long term consequences.

You may challenge, "What long term consequences? How do we know there are long term consequences?" You might want to take a few moments to observe your own life. I doubt that I am the first to inform you that we live primarily in an unconscious state. To observe one's self even for a moment offers the potential of awakening, so when the Greeks offered the challenge, "know thyself," they did know what they were talking about.

We live our lives under the unconscious agreement that what we do doesn't matter. But, in reality, everything does matter. We learn that simple fact from our hands, but the rest of life seems to conspire against that realization. For instance, take a piece of wood and a piece of sand paper and rub them against each other. The wood will become smooth and in time, the sand paper will lose its effectiveness. You can say that is no big deal and not important, but the change has been made. The wood is now smooth and the sandpaper is no longer fresh. The area where you worked is now covered with a thin layer of sanding dust, which you will sweep up and put in the trash. You may be able to pick up most of it, but some will remain on your skin until you bathe, some will remain floating in the air and migrate throughout your home. You could watch the operation backwards on your VCR, but the reality of life is that in the real world, there is no rewind and whatever we do has irreversible consequences. Scientists modeling weather patterns on huge super computers have noted that even the breath of a butterfly's wing is enough in time to effect the world's weather patterns. So, clap your hands together and in essence, you have performed the same miracle. You have made the world very slightly different in ways that you may not be able to perceive.

If we were completely aware of the chain of events that ran in every direction from each of our many small actions through the course of a single day, we would be totally astounded. Just as very small strokes of the sand paper make the wood irreversibly smooth, very small actions repeated over time add up to larger consequences and the small accumulated actions of many people add up in short order to much greater effect. So, when we are told that what we do has nothing to do with global warming, who are they trying to kid? Those of us with hands-on experience and who live with the slightest sense of the consequences of our own actions can see with our own powers of observation. If we're making heat or carbon dioxide we are warming the place. If we are making greater heat and carbon dioxide than our ancestors then we are warming the place beyond what makes sense for the long term health of the planet and the needs of our children and grandchildren.

So what does this have to do with Fred? As I may have mentioned before, Fred is the mechanic that works on my car. When things start to go wrong with it, my fearful imagination runs wild. "Could it be this?" I wonder. "Could it be that?" And Fred, a mechanic, both good and honest, doesn't listen to my fears, or even to my idle conjecture. He listens to the motor. He operates the clutch. He listens to the gears or takes it for a drive. If he doesn't come to a clear conclusion, he gets out the instruments and tests a few things. He's not interested in selling me the most expensive repair, but he is interested in fixing things and making it right. Now, I could go to the oil company scientists with their vested interest in selling me lots more oil, but I would rather go to Fred and get the car fixed.

After a time, I've come to realize that there are some honest people in the world that care deeply for greater things. I've also come to an understanding that there are values-damaged individuals who care only for money, profit, and things that they can count in ledgers. Those people and the ones they choose to represent them in government should never be trusted. Not for a moment, not for an inch. It is the wisdom of the hands and to ignore it may have tragic consequences for our children and their children.

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