Reading Susan’s thoughts on following the money proved interesting in regards to the rising gas prices. She argues that Americans should stop playing the blame game and realize that the issue a bit more complicated than some like to realize. I totally agreed with her, while admitting that following the money is easier said than done. But I would like to suggest something that relates tangentially to her post: following the culture. My thoughts on American culture are formed profoundly by my thoughts on what needs to change (starting in Christian circles). In the past I outlines ten things I think would be easy to change in America that would save money and more closely align with what I believe is God’s vision for the kingdom of God. Some of the things I outlined there had to do with gasoline, but now I think I need to speak more closely to the culture of consumption that has led to our dependence on petroleum in the first place.
As you’ll notice in my comment on Susan’s blog, I attribute much of the problem to the system of the suburbs. The “system” that I refer to is the idea that we have one side of town that is neighborhoods and another side of town that (often “downtown”) where food/entertainment/dining out experiences are located. The difference between this suburban and urban feeling can be seen most drastically is in places like New York City and San Francisco where the intermingling of residential/commercial and other areas make it easy to walk or take mass transit from one place to another. The way this is most clearly seen is the introduction to parking lots in the suburbs. These sometimes huge lots designed only for cars in the suburbs are a staple part of getting around. In New York and other places it is simply too costly to own a car and find places to park it because parking is so expensive.
My suggestion to fix the problem is to build commercial/business/residential areas closer to one another so that people can work/live/play in the same area without driving very far to do it. If they need to go other places the rail systems and the air system would be able to take them there. This is obviously an inoperable plan because it would require the destruction and reconstruction of much of America, but it should be a thought for the future. How we build our cities really does define our culture.