Now that gasoline has soared north of $3 a gallon, the nation is riveted.
Americans are lashing out at their leaders, more than two-thirds believing our country is on the wrong track, just as many losing confidence in President Bush’s leadership, while others decry the oil companies whom they believe are gouging their fellow citizens, if not hording oil.
While it is important to scrutinize our leaders’ response to this crisis vis-à-vis supply and demand and possible price manipulation, the reality is, even if everyone in power was a saint governed by perfect justice, oil is a time-limited commodity we need to transition from in the next 50 years. So, rather than being diverted by the alleged sins of corporate and government players, it would be far better to use escalating oil prices to inspire constructive change.
The oil crunch, for all the economic hardship it is causing, has the potential to positively impact many important endeavors. If we just tap into our patriotism, all those resolutions to clean up the environment, good old American ingenuity — where necessity is the mother of invention — and yes, even our fat cells, we can use this crunch to our advantage.
Without question, the most significant change would be a country unified in the Global War on Terrorism. Consider the attitude of triple amputee Jayme Bozik — who lost his two legs and right forearm when his Humvee struck a roadside bomb in Iraq: "’Even knowing I would lose three limbs, I would sign up again,’ Bozik, 26, told Time. ‘After Sept. 11, 2001, I remember thinking, ‘My God, they [terrorists] could put something in the water and kill a million people.’ That’s a fear I never want my family to have to feel again.’" (VFW Magazine, April 2006)
Three limbs devoted to the Global War on Terrorism so his family can live in safety! His example should put to shame those who complain when only their comfort zones are impacted by high gas prices. And, it should inspire a united American war effort in which all Americans seek to conserve energy, thereby reducing dependence on imported oil — especially oil imported from the Mideast. For the less we depend on Mideast oil, the less leverage the jihadists will have over America.
This is the same spirit that animated the nation during World War II when everyone rationed for the greater good of winning the war, sacrificing raw materials essential to daily living so they might be devoted toward needed military material. Only a united America won World War II. Anything less — we would have lost and would now be speaking German.
To reduce our dependence on imported oil, Americans might try to walk, when possible, instead of hopping into one’s car — the natural American tendency, epitomized by Congressional leaders themselves, who on the very day they were decrying high gas prices at the local gas station were relying on their idling, gas-guzzling vehicles to transport them the two blocks back to their offices, as reported by the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank (4/27/06). If everyone used their feet to do errands within walking distance even one day a month, the crunch would be eased and America would be showing a unified front plus getting a little healthier. In this regard, the President could declare the first Thursday of each month "National Walk Instead of Drive Day."
Finally, the great American tradition of ingenuity and inventiveness would be invigorated by upgrading the search for alternative sources of energy — at the same time showing better stewardship of our environment by working to discover non-polluting materials and methods.