Are your desires purely selfish? Do your tastes run to a grand home, automobiles, fine clothes, an abundance of amusements, and so forth? If so, look around you at people who have such things in superabundance. Are they any happier, do you think, than you are? Are they any better morally? Are they any stronger physically? Are they better liked by their friends than you are by your friends? ... Carnegie said, Millionaires rarely smile. This is substantially true.
It's not what you get out of life that counts. Break your mirrors! In our society that is so self-absorbed, begin to look less at yourself and more at each other. you'll get more satisfaction from having improved your neighborhood, your town, your state, your country, and your fellow human beings than you'll ever get from your muscles, your figure, your automobile, your house, or your credit rating.
California, that advance post of our civilization, with its huge aircraft factories, TV and film studios, automobile way of life... its flavourless cosmopolitanism, its charlatan philosophies and religions, its lack of anything old and well-tried rooted in tradition and character.
I do not use airplanes. They strike me as unsporting. You can have an automobile accident-and survive. You can be on a sinking ship-and survive. You can be in an earthquake, fire, volcanic eruption, tornado, what you will-and survive. But if your plane crashes, you do not survive. And I say the heck with it.
At Car and Driver, we were convinced that the automobile, as we knew and loved it, was as dead as the passenger pigeon. Ralph Nader was at full cry, ringing his tocsin of automobile doom into the brains of the public, convincing them that the lump of chrome and iron in the driveway was as lethal as a dose of Strontium 90 or a blast from a Viet Cong AK-47.
While majority opinion may not take kindly to forms of modern art, that same majority has also been hostile to most original and radical innovations, such as automobiles or airplanes or transatlantic cables or Protestantism or the theory that the earth is round and not flat.
Automobiles are free of egotism, passion, prejudice and stupid ideas about where to have dinner. They are, literally, selfless. A world designed for automobiles instead of people would have wider streets, larger dining rooms, fewer stairs to climb and no smelly, dangerous subway stations.
I'm sort of optimistic about what we could do, but I'm very pessimistic about what we will do. I can't tell you that Al Gore's 10-year plan is impossible. I'm old enough to remember the Second World War - if we had a World War II-type mobilization, we might accomplish Gore's plan. In 1940 we were making tens of thousands of automobiles, and in 1941 we were making tens of thousands of airplanes. We mobilized as a nation. If we get that kind of mobilization as a nation or globally, then we could solve a lot of these problems.