Has it ever occurred to you, as it just did to me, that there is a similarity between oil for our cars and oil in our diets? We tend to over-consume both. Even if our butts get fatter or our wallets get thinner, we just can’t resist the power packed energy source called OIL.
Both are such rich fuels, and both are so tempting that it’s hard to stop. We are hard wired to go hog wild in the face of fats, because they are rare in nature, we never know when or where our next supply will be, so we chow down and stock up. It used to be that we didn’t need a stop signal for consuming fat because it was not that available. “Go” helped us survive.
Speaking of nutrient dense fare, this blog post packs a lot of ideas in the least words possible. I’ll keep unpacking these concepts in the weeks ahead – blogging and teaching.
BO – before oil – the human population was constrained by what our muscles could muster. If it costs more energy to hunt than the calories we get from our prey, we waste away. If it costs more energy to plow than the calories we get from the crop, same thing. Our numbers and impact were minimal, and our appetite for rich energy sources appropriate because we didn’t have the technology to overconsume.
Our discovery of oil exploded our population, our industrial capacity, our technologies and our communications, bringing us to a point of being the most creative and self-destructive species this earth has probably seen.
One of those industries is agriculture, and gaining control of our food supply has allowed us to be eaters without being producers (farmers, fishermen, hunters, ranchers).
The wonder of the human is that we don’t take “no” for an answer. We keep chasing those energy sources and when up against a wall, we evolve, rapidly and creatively, because we can reason, imagine and experiment.
Okay, now couple this love for oil and fat with another invention of the modern era: fiat currency. Fiat means faith. we have faith in the dollar because others will take it for trading, It’s a good means of exchange and store of value because we believe it is. There are no pigs or sheep to back it. There is not gold. At this point even all the Kings resources and all the Kings labor couldn’t back the current number of dollars out there. Yet it allows us nonetheless to exploit resources. To dig, mine, till, and pump.
We end up with an apparently endless supply of oil (and fat) and no inner signals of constraint. Our environmentalists (doctors for our bodies, scientists for our technologies) warn us about the result of overconsumption, but our bodies and minds have a different idea. Consume and hoard in the presence of rich energy sources because you never know when they’ll come around again.
This is where “enough” comes in as a keynote for our times. We need to develop a taste for “enough” that is greater than our taste for oil and fat. We have to see “enough” as a formula for surviving and thriving and “more” as a formula for perishing.
This is a monumental shift for the human and once we make it, all of our agriculture and money and technology and science will be devoted to this elegant restraint, to this glorious freedom of “enough.” In the absence of a taste for “enough” we ping pong between self-denial and self-indulgence, between trying to be good and trying to get away with being greedy. But “enough” isn’t a virtue to correct for a vice. It is freedom from thinking that “more is always better.”