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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/13/10

Oil Addiction Cop Out

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As a society that cannot agree upon a solution to drug and alcohol addiction, claiming that our nation is addicted to oil is a cop out and a lazy, inappropriate response to the urgent, life-threatening problem of our rapidly declining environment.

I don't know about other recovered drug and alcohol addicts, but I have a lot of trouble swallowing the concept that I'm addicted to oil. After conquering a twenty-plus year addiction to substances (chronicled in my book, "From Death Do I Part"), I'm well-educated in what it means to be addicted to a thing. The notion that I am unwilling to examine and change my behavior as it relates to oil consumption is entirely false. For me to imagine giving up oil in order to use alternative energy hardly stirs up feelings of fear comparable to the fears I faced in alcohol withdrawal--both physical and psychological. There is no dependency as strong as one that encompasses not only a person's psyche but their body as well.

If I am suddenly required to ride my bike to the store tomorrow or to carpool with strangers to work at an earlier hour than I prefer, I might moan for a minute, but I know overall it's a good idea and I'll soon adjust. I know the difficult work required in making drastic lifestyle changes, but because I understand the value of switching to alternative energy sources, I'm willing to make necessary changes, in spite of any slight feelings of resistance. I know if I can live through the agony of giving up substances, I can most certainly live through and adjust to whatever lifestyle changes using alternative energy will require.

On the other hand, it's ordinary for people to resist change. We are creatures of comfort, not discomfort, and the idea of giving up what we know to be comfortable for the unknown is understandably nerve-racking. But that does not mean we are incapable or unwilling to change if it means helping and healing each other and our planet. Ordinary, lazy, slightly fear-laden resistance to change is not the total resistance that defines an addict. Most American's do not wish to torture dolphins by choking them to death with oil "spills." Most American's do not desire to fill the Pacific Ocean with a gyre of floating plastic trash the size of Texas. Most all of us are willing to do the right thing--especially when offered reasonable alternatives.

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So if I'm not addicted to oil and the general population is not addicted to oil, then who is addicted to oil? Are the executives of the oil companies and government leaders addicted to oil? No. They are not addicted to oil either. No one is addicted to oil. Oil is not the kind of thing you can be addicted to. If there were another source of energy that was clean, cheap, safe and available, people would gladly use it. If someone were addicted to oil, then they would insist on using oil even though there was an obviously better choice available. That is what it is to be an addict. If a person wants to visit their relatives and orange juice in the tank of their car will get them where they need to go, what do they care? They don't. But if you offer an alcoholic a glass of orange juice instead of something with alcohol in it, they care a lot. They are addicted. But we are not addicted to oil as we are mistakenly being led to accept.

However, there is an addiction in the air, and it does involve the executives of the oil companies and the government leaders and others beholden to them. But it is not oil these people are addicted to--it is greed. As an alcoholic clings to their bottle for stability, people addicted to greed cling to excessive wealth for their sense of well-being. And in addition to the unbelievable damage they are doing to the planet and to us, these people are also hurting themselves. This is because the human worth and well-being they so desperately seek through fulfillment of their greedy desires does not come in the form of money, so as long as they continue to act out greedily in their self-made cocoon of delusion, they will continue to suffer, as will we all.

Oil addiction is not the problem; therefore, admitting to it is not the solution. Greed is the problem, but admitting to that is also not the solution. Confronting it is. As long as those in power retain their addiction to greed, they will continue to spread their destructive addictive behaviors, and soon we will see those behaviors impacting and destroying the operations of solar power and all other healthy energy sources.

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When we talk about our society being addicted to oil, we are failing to address the true addiction that is responsible for the irreversible damage we see occurring to all of life. This is why it is a cop out to explain our failure to move to alternative energy sources as a result of an addiction to oil. Until we acknowledge that greed is the core issue, and until those cultivating its existence either overcome their addiction or are no longer in power, life will continue to suffer.


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I am an artist living in Los Angeles, CA.

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