As I See It


Ruth Sanford



The headlines shout from the front page “Gas Crunch Eases Here”. On Saturday an obscure Iranian tanker named See Speed dominated city news by spilling a hundred thousand gallons of diesel fuel into New York Harbor on the eve of the Fourth of July parade on the Hudson River diverting the wrote the route of the sailing ships, polluting the beaches and threatening wildlife. Speaking to the press captain Fleishall of the Coast Guard commented,”Between the Good Lord, our own Coast Guard, and private contractors we should have this problem solved pretty quickly. “Makes it sound like a very simple problem”, I thought, “but why put the burden on the good Lord for the persistent stupidity of governments and owners of tankers who with all of our technical know-how do not build compartments and storage tanks which would limit spills should such an accident occur?”


Another headline “Greedy Drivers Ignore Woman Crushed by Car” on the gas line reveals another side of the crisis which has suddenly laid a restraining hand on the American way of life – a life of constant motion. Like one trying to restrain a restless Tiger pacing the confines of his cage or seeking freedom on a city street, threatening limitations and are calling forth anger and lashing out blindly at the restraint itself


What is behind the restraint the control which has suddenly clamped off the hoses of thousands of gas pumps as if the arteries of our collective body had been closed off? When will it relax its grip? And for how long?


Why is the control necessary? Or is it necessary? These are questions which puzzle and confuse and eat away at our trust of persons in power. The owner of the service station which keeps my car running tells me that his supplier promises gasoline delivery and doesn't deliver. He is hard-pressed and I read on page 11 of this morning's paper story involving the same oil company. Early last month that tanker Mobile Aero sailed from Beaumont, Texas with a load of gasoline for storage tanks in three cities in Florida but she was not able to  unload all of the cargo because the storage tanks were full, so she returned to Texas with 132,000 gallons still in her hold.


A union spokesman said that the believed the slow motion tactics were being used by oil industries to limit supplies until prices go up. Saudia Arabia decides to increase the supply to the United States which sends is a wave of optimism through the country. Someone told me with assurance last week that Friends of the oil industry are starving Long Island of gas in order to force support for drilling off Long Island. And that protests against nuclear power and its wastes are also prompted by Big Oil.


Thes stories fly and grow like gossip until we feel more and more sure of our own transportation or give up in frustration and decide to “ride it out (no pun intended) this too shall pass.” The attitude has been around for a long time that if you ignore what is unpleasant or frightening it will go away. It is their problem.


What would have happened I wonder if John Adams and Thomas and Jefferson had said to England give us representation Parliament and we’ll forgive and forget and go on as usual. Borrowing from Garry Wills what John Adams said was “God forbid! We don't want representation. We want freedom! And they set out to invent a new America.


A nation in the process of becoming cannot remain dependent upon another nation. A person whose whole life is built around and depends upon another person falls apart when that other person is no longer there.


The United States has, 200 years after its revolutionary inception, become a nation dependent upon fossil fuel and their sources for its way of life, its economy and functions under a government controlled in large part by fossil fuel lobbies. We who complain about gas lines but insist on convenience, the saving of minutes and the prestige of the “in car or two or three per family at any cost, upon being overheated in our homes in winter and over cooled in summer, upon riding door-to-door rather than walking a mile or half mile - WE have let it happen. We have given away our power.


If our supply of oil gas and gasoline were cut off tomorrow, we as a nation would be in a state of collapse. We've had a taste of that collapse and we convince ourselves, if we can, that someone is playing a nasty trick on us. we must find a villain to blame.


I find the thoughts of a perceptive friend, a world citizen who lived in Hawaii very potent, if shocking on the subject:

“OPEC suggested to America than America should cut its imports of oil or find its own source of oil n America. However, no one in America took this warning seriously. We can view this problem in another way. America has about 6% of the world's population but consumes over 30 percent of the world's natural resources. How long will the rest of the world tolerate the situation? When I watch every day people driving to work with only one passenger car instead of using …public transportation I know something has to give soon …in England it (gas) is $2.80 a gallon."


I choose to feel that we are hearing the wheels of the peasant carts in France before the French Revolution, the scattered disturbance of those first shops heard round the world in Massachusetts before 1776 the rumble of distant thunder which tells us that a new revolution is approaching. One editorial has referred to it as “the passing of the Auto Age”. We have a warning that we cannot spend in 50 years in our country the treasures created and stored for us in the earth over millions of years and stake out very lives on the ablution that there is always more where that came from.


Death and birth are always frightening and painful and fraught with unknown responsibilities as well as growth and joys unknown. Bill Moyers coined or quoted the expression, "A revolution is a terrific pressure to change and to grow".  A revolution is a throwing off of outside control.


We're on the threshold of a new age. Perhaps the age of truly inexhaustible resources. The Sun Age? The age of Sun and Waves and Wind?


That is as I see it