(this news item posted on November.13.2007)
Both head on bike collisions followed the same basic pattern. Sudden obstacle, little time to react, just enough reaction to avoid serious injury. Each rider checking to see if the other rider's okay. Then each rider checking to see if each other's bikes are okay. Then you smile. And then you ride off. The emotional diagram of the event goes something like: shock, fear, concern, relief, amusement.
Okay. Topic change. But it's all related, you'll have to trust me.
In Derrick Jensen's latest book, endgame: vol II, he credits Ward Churchill with having told him that the GNP (Gross National Product) is just a scorecard of how fast the nation converts life into death. Living trees into dead paper, living animals into fast food commodities, living plants into textiles and the like. Personally, I had never really thought about the GNP very much before, but I see where they're going with that. I think it's more than that though. I think that's one major component of it, and another major component is changing the earth's chemical equation (converting inorganic things into products (which also has catastrophic consequences (consequences, like turning the living into the dead I suppose (but that's a little too indirect for me)))). Anyway, the powers that are go around converting all kinds of non living things into products: water, rocks, gases, whatever else. Things like carbon and coal and oil and radioactive elements that are supposed to be buried under the ground are now out and just hanging around with us on the surface, changing our atmosphere, making us sick, doing whatever all else.
In book I'm presently writing, the Problem With Earthlings, I talk a lot about the battle I've been waging against the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) for most of my adult life.
When I was little there was a framed quotation on our wall that said "Live Simply, So that others may simply live". I figured it was just there, like all of the other things on the wall that meant little. Something to walk past. But it was seeping into my brain a little bit every day. Live simply.
These days I take my anti-consumerism to a ridiculous extreme according to many of my friends. According to me I'm just living my life. I am pretty zealotous about it though. Around this time every year I sit down and calculate how much money I did not give to Altria corporation by not smoking? And how much money I did not give to McDonald's by never ever going to McDonald's? How much money is Anheuser Busch lacking due to my not drinking? And it goes on and on and on.
For the last eight (almost nine) years now I have had another calculation to make. The car savings. How much money am I not giving to auto manufacturers? How much interest on the loan? How much money am I not giving to GEICO in auto insurance (a total legalized racket)? How much in gas to these HUGE petrol corporations? How much evil would they have done with my money had I given it to them? They're good at multiplication of evil, I know they are.
And then a day like today happens. Head on collision on a bike. Maybe I would drive more carefully than I bike. Actually I'm sure I would since I do drive once in a while. But a head on collision in a car does NOT end with amusement. Not at all. Quite the opposite.
The bike accident I got into a few years ago was at the apex of a bridge. The other rider and I actually did exchange names. We didn't have to. But I felt it only fitting since we'd bumped into each other. His bike had been undamaged. Mine was nearly undamaged. My insurance is still zero. Had I chosen to get my bike repaired the bill would have been under twenty dollars.
Living simply does allow other's an opportunity to simply live. But more than that... living simply makes life really, really simple sometimes.