Sleepless in America

What's on TV tonight? Let's see. Insomniac. Re runs of Cheers. Girls Gone Wild. Reports of suicide bombings and UN inspectors tucked neatly in between, ironically, the show “cribs” and a Hummer commercial. Another incredibly normal night in America.

My normal life in Iranian / American standards seems to fit well within the society. I work hard and try to make the best out of the opportunities I have. Like many others I also wrestle with demon's of humanity: recycle the trash, support a few kids overseas, volunteer at the soup kitchen, write my Congresswoman, sign petitions, bitch and complain about Iranians detained by the INS, cry wolf at the news of war with Iraq, discuss the issues in Iran… yada yada yada. All bandaids to deep cuts that have little impact, on TV or for me. No change here, no change there and “why?” I wonder!!

Within the global theater I have become, for lack of a better word, “Comfortably Numb”(homage to Pink Floyd).

I know what I do every day resonates somewhere else like ripples from a small stone thrown into the pond. I remember a comedian a while back saying “this morning someone cut me off in my way to work, so when I got to the office I took it out on my secretary and ruined her day. Later that evening she bitched at her husband, and then he walked into the yard and kicked the neighbors dog … and somehow all this hostility ends up in Middle East!!!”

A little common sense and basic knowledge of history is all it takes to put things together. Connect the dots as they say. Not very hard to see that energy plays a major role in the international arena. And where there is demand, out boils the supply. And with money, power and idealism at stake, special interests form, foreign policies shape and no effort is spared. Threats, mutiny, coups, puppet governments, colonization, sanctions, war, and worst of all evils, MARKETING.

Man's greatest strength lies in his capacity for irrelevance. In the midst of wars and famines, he builds cathedrals; and a slave, he can think the irrelevant and unsuitable thoughts of a free man. — Aldous Huxley.

In the “free” world as long as my American neighbor and me can afford the gas, we are entitled to drive our guzzlers wherever and whenever we want. “Way of Life” we call it. After all, what hurt could it do? According to the Department of Energy 42% of the fuel in U.S. goes toward the use of light vehicles (includes SUV's and trucks) and that is 50% of the oil consumed by same type of vehicles worldwide.

Back in World War II, and other major conflicts, the threat to world stability was real and the government encouraged the public to save energy through car sharing and other means. This time it is presented as a questionable threat to “Way of Life” but no credible connections are made.

Saddam Hussain can be tied to Osama through a third cousin that shared a taxi with Osama's hair dresser, but the domestic interest and addiction to foreign oil and ensuring its supply in no way ties into current conflicts?!

What is becoming apparent to this country's general public, although very slowly (thanks to special interests), is that their dependency on Middle East energy is not worth the conflicts and responsibilities that go with it, specially when it rings close to home. And what makes sense for the average Bill makes twice the sense for the average “me” since I also hold a personal interest in the stability of the region.

Would it be fair to say that for me as an immigrant living within acceptable standards of this society, discussing the issues in Middle East and specially Iran is irrelevant until I recognize the difference I make — or more importantly, don't make — and act on it?

No brilliant ideas here, no parting of the sea. The least I can do is put the guzzler in hibernation until I truly need it, get myself a 45-mile-per-gallon hybrid for the vast and open freeways and doing so maybe even save a few dollars from therapy?!

It's no miracle but it's a start.

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