In light of the tragedies on our streets these past few days and the suffering of the pedestrians and motorists involved, I thought it might be time to put the car in greater perspective and get a different sort of conversation going concerning what we are facing.
Now, a few of you may be familiar with some of my thoughts about the indiscriminate use of the automobile in our town, in addition the utter domination of cars in towns and cities throughout our country. A number of folks have asked me why this is a topic I keep bringing up. Simply put, as a father, pedestrian, dedicated transport cyclist, and psychotherapist immersed in the field of ecopsychology, it is my opinion there is no other technology that has so profoundly altered our physical landscape as well as our mental landscape.
Nothing in recent history has redefined our mind’s perception of the world around us and insulated us from the Earth like the car. It effectively dictates how we build our cities and towns, where we live, how we shop, how we get our kids around while it twists our sense of the earth and our bioregion, distorts out perception of distance, blots out our natural soundscapes, contributes massively to climate change, isolates animals gene pools, kills and maims thousands of animals (including human animals), promotes obesity and a list that can go on and on.
So, with that said it is quite perplexing that to date there have been no psychological investigations into how driving a car alters our brains and our very perceptions of the earthly terrain we inhabit. I know, I have done the research and there is zilch. Is this just some accidental oversight or some monster truck sized blindspot?
What I like to call this is the Great Car Trance. The great Zen master, Suzuki Roshi said that “in beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert mind, there are few.” If that is so, then it seems to me that we have all become so proficient at seeing the car with such great expertise that thinking outside of this 4 wheel box and its infrastructure has become a profoundly difficult task.
Whenever a technology becomes routine, it tends to be regarded as normal, no matter how great the disruption to the balance of things. So, it is with this I offer you a wonderful animated video from the 1960’s that perhaps may help nudge us a bit out that ol’ car trance and might even deepen the conversation now going on. It’s well worth it!
Love to hear your comments no matter what your position. Just try to keep it respectful.