Even though I'm a self-employed entrepreneur (and therefore broadly pro-business) I've always had a left-leaning political tendency.
But yesterday I joined the conservatives I usually argue with, and took part in a nationwide re-enactment of the Boston Tea Party. As a raving bicycle fanatic, this makes a lot of sense, because we were addressing another facet of the same problem. Let's look at this.
For the last 10 years, America has been partying. The past 6 months have been the hangover. Our government, the banks and corporations, but also individual consumers and me and you have been overspending. We've gotten way over our heads into debt, and developed some bad habits that will make it harder to get out.
As an individual, this is a bad situation, but it's tolerable. At some point you'll bite the bullet, spend less, look and feel bad for a while, maybe even go into bankruptcy or foreclosure but you'll live.
But when large institutions make this mess, everybody feels the pain. Not only that, but your kids and grandkids and great grandkids will still be cleaning up the mess. That's what yesterday's protests were about. Bush ran up an unheard-of deficit in eight years, and Obama is fixing to do the same thing in a matter of months.
I voted for Obama with a passion, but if his change is just a continuation of Bush's failed policies, we're screwed.
That's the money story, and the reason why I joined in the tea party yesterday. But the economic pain is only a piece of a much larger problem. We're not just spending our grandchildren's money. We're destroying the very basis for them to support themselves and pay the debt back.
The average temperature of the earth has risen by a degree in the past century, and many climatologists are predicting it will rise another 3-9 degrees in this one. Doesn't sound like much, but that single degree has caused the disappearance of massive ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica. With possible serious consequences.
Our bad habits and mindset are the real problem
While scientists debate the causes and effects of global warming, while economists argue about global finance and how to fix it, and while politicians bicker over what really went wrong and how to fix it, there's a simple answer to most of the questions. Extravagance. We've gone overboard. We consume too much, use too much, spend too much, burn too much, eat too much.
We're wreaking havoc on our economy, our environment, and even our own minds and bodies.
I'm proposing a small solution. This isn't going to save the world, but it's going to give us a giant step in the right direction.
Go for a bike ride, and get someone else to join you. Seriously.
One of the big stories we've been trained to believe is that everything has a cost. If you want security, fun, or you want to solve a big and troubling problem, you have to make sacrifices.
But riding a bike is the exception to this rule. You can accomplish all of those things and so much more--and it's free.
That's why you should be out there on a bike. It's the easiest way to shatter the paradigm we're caught up in. It will change your thinking, it will change your outlook, and it will change the world.
A bike ride will help in many ways:
- You'll get some instant relief from whatever stress you've had to deal with recently
- Every mile you ride instead of driving will save about a pound of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. When you bring a friend along, the benefits are doubled.
- While you're out, you can turn of the lights, computer and TV, saving more energy and cutting your carbon footprint.
- You'll actually feel the wind and sun and contours of the land. You'll connect with landscapes and neighborhoods. This is far more entertaining than the mindless, wasteful consumption most people are used to.
- You'll save money that can be used to get out of debt, invest for the future, or support your favorite causes.
- You'll get great ideas on all kinds of things while you're riding your bike. If you execute some of these ideas into, you'll improve your life, your job, your relationships, your income, and help out the world to boot!
- You won't be listening to the depressing stories that the media pumps into your brain 24/7
- You'll become stronger, leaner, sexier and have more energy.
Try it. Please.