“More than any other time in history, mankind faces a cross-roads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.” Woody Allen
It’s all about choices, choices made and irretrievable, choices facing us every day, choices looming over us in the future.
It’s difficult and probably counterproductive to think of “society” making choices, since society and culture are the sum of all choices made by their members. Society and culture provide information to their members to make further decisions. It goes round and round.
At some point in the past “we” chose to use oil-powered internal combustion engines to transport us and our stuff about the face of the earth. Society didn’t make the choice; individual humans decided to embrace this new invention and use it to replace the then current modes of transportation: feet, horses, bicycles, coal-powered trains, each of which had advantages and disadvantages to be weighed against the advantages and disadvantages of oil-based power. As is usual, the disadvantages were never fully perceived and articulated, so we made these decisions without access to all the necessary information.
As is the custom, we live with the results of choices made in the past. The road once taken cannot be retraced. Progress has no reverse gear; we cannot go back to the last fork and choose the other path.
As we gaze dimly into the future, we begin to realize that the road we have chosen goes over a cliff, there is no bridge to the other side, there are fewer and fewer forks in the road ahead, and we are proceeding at maximum speed to the inevitable drop to the rocks below. Worse yet, the brakes don’t seem to respond and the throttle is stuck.
If we are to avoid the glorious flight to oblivion ahead, and the shocking, abrupt stop at the bottom, we must get out of the car and build a new road. We can employ our individual choices, just as our ancestors did, to find a new direction, new speed and new destination.
We can choose to inform ourselves of the reality of the path we are on and the reality of alternative paths ahead.
We can choose to change the way we live individually so as to lesson the effects of coming changes in our personal lives. We can choose to live within walking and bicycling distance of home. We can choose to eat fresh, nutritious foods grown locally. We can choose to live, work and play where we live rather than travel thousands of miles for business and entertainment . We can choose to work together with our neighbors to create and support opportunities for local democratic decision-making.
Just as the choices made by our ancestors led us to the path we are on today, our choices made today and tomorrow form the future we create and the future our children will inherit.
We have a finite number of choices left in our lives. Let’s make every one count.