Opinion

Sound Off: It all starts in the mirror

By Patricia Kuenzi

While I enjoyed reading your recent column regarding attempting to save money and energy and the Catch-22 you were caught in, it also triggered some thoughts regarding our national energy/environmental policy.

We don’t have one, of course. We don’t have one because Americans don’t want one. We don’t want one because we have been unable to face the reality that there are no easy, painless or inexpensive solutions for us. We are going to have to make real, big, expensive, mindful changes in our lifestyles, and we just haven’t been willing to accept that fact.

The bottom line is, however, for political, economic, environmental, and, imagine this — moral and ethical reasons — we are going to have to consume and waste less. Much, much less. We are going to have to drive smaller, more efficient vehicles. We are going to have to drive less. We are going to have to walk, carpool, and public transit more. We are going to have to put on sweaters instead of cranking up the heat in the winter. We are going to have to open windows instead of running the air conditioner in the summer. We are going to have to pay more for food flown and trucked in from far-flung places. We are going to have to pay more up front for awhile for greener, more efficient, most likely smaller, homes. We are going to have to have smaller lawns. We are going to have to stop using so much fertilizer. We are going to have to stop drinking bottled water unless we really need to. We are going to have to purchase and re-use shopping bags and coffee mugs.

We are going to have to purchase energy-efficient light bulbs. We are going to have to think about how and what we consume and throw away. In countless ways, large and small, we are going to have to change.

The changes will be very difficult, but they can also bring many benefits. We can have new technology, new industries, and new employment opportunities. We can have a healthy, growing economy. We can have clean air, soil, and water. We can be healthier individuals. We can forge a new sense of unity as a nation. We can fulfill our calling to be responsible stewards of this earth. We can leave future generations a more stable world. It’s up to us. We have an incredible amount of untapped imagination, skill, and fortitude; we just need to use them.

Of course, there are many players contributing to the problem, and all must do their part to achieve the solution. We need to demand action from our government and corporations. But before anything, we each need to demand more of ourselves. Each of us needs to commit and act to move toward energy independence and environmental stewardship as individuals first, then as families, as neighborhoods, as a community, and as a nation. Look in the mirror. Start with “me”. Start today.

Patricia Kuenzi, from Oak Harbor, is temporarily living in Europe.

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