In a recent poll among U.S. citizens, 73 percent believe America is heading in the wrong direction. One friend quipped, “but hey, with the price of gas, we can’t afford to get there!”
I was coming of age during our first real gasoline spike back in the late 1970s. Just prior to it, I can remember when I first landed my driver’s license, whoever could find a family car for the weekend would ask everyone to chip in a dollar for gas. If you could only come up with 50 cents, that was OK too.
We would often pile in a car and head for a movie, and if it was summertime, a drive-in movie was everyone’s favorite thing to do because it didn’t cost much to get in.
When we watched gas prices jump past 60 cents a gallon, we began to wonder what our world was coming to.
We were told that the unrest in Iran was impacting oil prices, and that this rising cost would likely cause other goods and materials to rise in price accordingly. We began to see pictures on the news each night of the Ayatollah and the Shah of Iran.
It was all new, and it was more than unsettling. I remember my father saying, “We don’t want to get in to a war in that part of the world.”
We learned of hostages taken and mistreated, devastating deaths in an attempted rescue gone bad.
So, here we are, all these years later, gas prices frighteningly high, Iran again in the news, our world an unstable place.
What have we been doing all these years? Trying to stick our head in the proverbial sand, pretending that all of our problems would somehow take care of themselves.
Along with not resolving the gasoline issue, the U.S. kept cranking out cars and trucks that kept right on burning high levels in terms of miles per gallon. We gave away more and more of our power to other countries, while also giving loads of money to help them operate
Our government danced merrily onward as though manna from heaven was raining down on us, and we had everything to give. I listen to those around me bashing the current administration for all of our ills. There is plenty of blame to go around, of that there is no doubt.
But we certainly cannot be naive enough to believe that all of our deep-seated troubles began in the last few years.
The most frightening economic newscast of my time came near the end of President George W. Bush‘s administration, but where we stood on that grave day certainly could not be blamed on one president or one Congress.
When I was 16, I was riding with an older lady who kept passing gas stations in her luxury Chrysler even though the fuel gauge was nearing empty. “I refuse to pay 60 cents for a gallon of gas!” she said, exasperated.
I sat mutely next to her, wondering about the intelligence of her emotional rationalizing. Eventually, we had to pull in to a mom and pop store with gas pumps out front and waste several hours in the chilly, dark car, waiting for them to open. We paid 68 cents a gallon, but we were glad to have it.
That single memory seems to paint a picture of us all, both then and now: angry, exasperated, but helpless to change our reality, realizing more with each passing year that our government is forcing us all to tread in troubled water without a life preserver.
Are we going to continue sticking our head in the Saudi sand as our leaders make one bad decision after another? It seems the rate to do so is agonizingly high.
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