From the Editor

Whose business is it, really?

The way we drive has global implications

A couple years ago I wrote a piece wondering about the
stewardship of building and living in a “trophy home,” a
residence far larger than a family with three or four
children would need.

I asked why someone would live in an oversized
dwelling, and offered the answer, “Because they can.”
I received a testy reply from a reader in Texas who
declared, “It’s nobody’s business how big the house is
that I live in.” I was tempted to write back and suggest
he read the Gospel of Luke (which has a lot to say
about wealth disparity, and pretty much assures us that
God is not amused when some of us overindulge while
others of us go without). But I resisted the temptation
and didn’t send a reply to the reader in the Lone Star
State.

The question I raised, back then, about oversized
houses, is still in my mind. Lately it’s taken a new form:
Why do we drive vehicles that are bigger than they need
to be, that waste fuel, and that intimidate other drivers?
Serendipitously, two cartoons this month — one on this
page, one on the facing page — focus on automobile
ownership and driving behavior.

Some days ago my wife looked out the window and
saw a Hummer pull up in the neighbors’ driveway. “Oh
no,” she declared, “the people next door have traded up
to one of those things!” She got a surprise when the
driver, a visitor at the neighbors’ home, climbed out. He
was an older man with white hair.

We’re running out of fossil fuel, gasoline prices seem
stuck above $2 a gallon (and may go higher), the air I
see in the west suburbs as I walk to the bus each
morning often looks dirty green, and a case can be
made for the possibility that Arab nations are holding
our economy hostage. Still, the best-selling vehicles in
this country are sport utility vehicles, trucks and
Hummers. It’s as though we’re on a gas-guzzling binge
and can’t — or don’t want to — stop.

Whose business is it what kind of vehicles we drive,
how we drive them, and how frequently? It’s the
business of all of us. Unless we really believe God is
about to wrap up history and end the world in a year or
two, what we do with our resources is a matter of
Christian stewardship and civic responsibility.

It’s a good sign that hybrid cars are gaining popularity.
Hydrogen vehicles? Maybe some day. Meanwhile, there
are responsible shorter-term choices we can — and
should — make.