I’m always striving for change, but since I often take on grand tasks, I’m coming up a bit short in the ‘accomplished’ column. In an effort to turn that around, I’ve decided to advocate goals that seem within reach. Forget about trying to end the brainwashing of Americans in regards to beauty standards, or providing the Democratic Party with a backbone (a few notable exceptions excluded from this indictment), or a look towards impeachment (which, by the way, should be off the table. I mean, remember who would step in and take Bush’s place. We’d have to work our way pretty far down that food chain before we’d hit a tolerable option, and then all we’d do is set that person up for a good run in 2008.)
I bypassed trying to convince American city dwellers that they should stop driving tanks down our suburban streets. I’ll leave that one to the car manufacturers and legislators, believing in the slogan, “Build it and they will come.” Give a family of five a nice option for carting around kids, friends, sports gear, and musical instruments, and I’m sure they’d happily trade in their gas-guzzling monstrosity. As far as the singles driving those vehicles, my wide-eyed lack of comprehension as I sit opposite them in conversation would telegraph my disbelief in their claims of necessity, aside from the select few who engage in extreme sports or regularly haul stuff. Sorry, I don’t buy the safety argument which points out all the other huge vehicles whizzing by on the road. That’s what the arms race was all about, and we know where that led.
I’ve also decided to forego trying to end world hunger, at least while Brad and Angelina are manning that fort. I figure if they can’t pull it off, what odds do I have? While tackling the traffic problem in LA would probably bring me the greatest immediate personal relief, its eradication would remove talking points from half of all conversations in the city leaving awkward gaps of silence. Besides, short of halting all development and sealing the city borders, a solution doesn’t come to mind. Yes, I’ve heard of subways, but by the time Los Angeles makes them fully functional, I’ll be using a walker. At this point, I’d rather try to come up with how to get our troops out of Iraq.
With these grievances tossed aside, I started considering possible campaigns I could launch. So where am I turning for a chance at success? Bike clothing. Everything morning as I stand in line in my local coffee joint, teams of morning bikers waltz in dressed in the most absurd attire I’ve ever seen. I’d take Bjork’s swan dress over these outfits. How did an industry convince these exercisers that this is a desirable look? I can excuse the bright colors due to the above-mentioned grizzly local traffic where bikers ride perilously close to multi-ton vehicles, but what’s with all the faux sponsorship plastered across their chests and backs? Do they really think we believe that these companies have signed up to sponsor their morning treks from home to coffee shop? Do they feel like star athletes parading around in these get ups? Meanwhile, I struggle to explain these eyesores to my son with his emerging fashion instincts. Where’s Nike or Adidas when you need them? Can’t they step in and come up with something tasteful?
The only down side to my quest is that at the end of the day it’s one of aesthetics. I just can’t convince myself that ‘Mission Accomplished’ on bike wear is on par with a wake up call to this nation. After all, I now live in a country that accepts religion as a reasonable weapon to promote bigotry and hatred. I live in a country so blind to human nature that policy makers support abstinence only education over giving developing teens information about their own bodies. And somewhere along the road, expressions of love and commitment by about ten percent of the population became labeled as examples of a war on family values.
While I once idealistically believed that I lived in a country that wanted to lead by example, I certainly never expected that example to include terrorizing young children in a foreign land as we bomb their government into submission. Of course, I’m not the first to feel distress over these issues. Op-ed pages across the country repeatedly explore these ideas, only to be ignored by the majority of residents.
At this point, my only hope is that we look back on this era as a time of learning, as one of those embarrassing missteps of a culture that eventually gets it right in the future. And while we work for the big changes, let’s not turn our back on the small ones. By tackling the more easily mastered problems, we can fuel our own belief in the ability to bring about progress. So, if you have a biking mate, how about suggesting a fashion overhaul. Remember, change begins at home.