By Robert Butler
I've always been a car guy.
There... I said it out loud.
So how does that square with my professional and personal advocacy of spiritual ecology? Does liking cars while being an environmentalist make me broadminded? Complex? Or just schizophrenic? I honestly don't know. Most likely some combination of all three.
As long as I could remember, I have always loved cars.
Both my birth father and my stepfather sold them, and even as a three-year-old, I could name every make and model of car on the road. My entire youth was spent longing for the day when I could get behind the wheel myself.
My personality was such that I always craved speed as well. And since I couldn't afford a fast car when I finally earned my driver’s license, the next best thing to go fast was a motorcycle! However many dollars I had, my primary concern was “What is the fastest I can go for this amount of money?” Inevitably, that was what I bought. Comfort and reliability be damned. It had to look good and go fast!
Recently I was reading the letters to the editor in Car and Driver magazine. There had been a recent issue that exclusively featured electric cars. Most car guys abhor the idea of an electric vehicle; they liken them to appliances and golf carts. There was a time I thought like that. I no longer do. Like it or not electric cars are the future, and even though the method of extracting the energy to produce them may be just as damaging to the earth as a fossil fuel car, there is no doubt they don't pollute the air we breathe nearly as much. And ironically, the high-performance versions are far faster than their gas guzzling counterparts!
However, reading the letters written to the magazine, you would believe that they had crossed some imaginary, unyielding line-of-death with their readership.
People felt compelled to inform them that the moment they saw an electric car on the cover and realized the issue was dedicated to them, they dropped it straight into the trash can (real men don’t use recycle bins) without even opening it. There were a few letters that applauded the magazine's forward thinking in producing the issue, but most of the letters they published harbored such ill will and hatred of the editorial staff to even consider the idea that something so threatening to their cherished gas-guzzler was worthy of print. Even more so that in America of all places, something unwanted was being “forced” down their throats.
It reminded me of what we have seen happening in the U.S. over the past six years---first in politics, then with the pandemic.
Everyone has an opinion, and everyone believes their theirs is the only opinion that matters. This is the very definition of the “false” ego. This version of the ego feeds our need to be different from one another, and our false belief that due to our being “right” and everyone else being “wrong,” we are better than others.
According to the tenets of Hindu and Buddhist philosophy, this, as well as our material attachments constitute the foundation for our entrapment in the material world. As my dear departed friend and mentor, Dr. Louis Stolis emphatically said, “Your judgements and opinions are killing you!”
I have come to believe that as long as we are rooted in our “false” egos, there can never be peace on earth, regardless of who is driving what.
Time will tell who is on the right side of history, but I believe it is safe to say that spewing carbon monoxide, soot and spent hydrocarbons into the atmosphere without consideration will eventually create even more havoc on the planet, and with the health of its inhabitants. I must confess loving to look at the classic cars of my childhood but sure hate holding my breath and gasping for air when following them down the road.
Perhaps it is resistance to the change of accepting an inevitable future and forfeiting the beloved things of their youth that had prompted such vitriol from those readers. The lifestyle of freedom that the cars of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s represent to many Americans is being replaced by a technology that is not yet fully understood but better accommodates a world population and economy more than twice the size than it was in those days.
The generations born after those decades also have far more sophisticated needs than those born in simpler times.
So, whether you believe that Ian Elon Musk represents the second coming or the Anti-Christ, this world is going to chug on with or without your opinion. You can either resist that or make peace with it.
The choice is yours.
Even as a child, Robert Butler was fascinated with the nature of consciousness. A practitioner of Bhakti Yoga and committed vegetarian since the age of 17, he embarked on a lifelong journey to help himself and others uncover the mysteries of life. After living in an ashram in his late teens through his mid 20s, he traveled extensively, and delved deeply into personal growth and healing work. For the past twenty-five years, he has run a San Diego based nonprofit that supports three Bhakti Yoga ashrams and sustainable farm communities: Audarya Ashram in Philo, California, Sarahgrahi near Asheville, North Carolina, and Madhuvan in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica. He is an author, spiritual counselor and senior staffer with the ManKind Project, as well as a mentor with the Boys to Men Mentoring Network. He lives in Encinitas, California.
Editor: Dana Gornall
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