Beyond Oil: Helping America Break the Oiloholic Addiction

Beyond Oil:
Helping America break the Oiloholic addiction

The President of the United States has acknowledged that America is addicted to oil.

His solution? More Oil – Drill offshore, drill in the Alaska reserve, -

But that is a lethal solution. It's like saying, "Yes, I'm addicted to nicotine. Pack a day. Gives me the shakes. Sell me a couple more packs to get me through the night, will ya?"

Like any addiction, oil is convenient. Comforting. Delicious. And it kills. It is choking children – in an epidemic of asthma. It is choking the planet -- through "global scorching."

Like any addictive substance, Oil has drug pushers. And drug lords. Just as the cigarette companies claimed that nicotine wasn't addictive, and if it was it didn't do any harm, and if it did you could always stop –- so it's your own fault if you get sick -----

So now Big Oil claims there isn't any global scorching, and if there is human beings don't cause it, and if they do, oil is too important to give up. They push the lethal drug. It brings in billions. (Exxon-Mobil's recent profits were the highest in all corporate history.)

And now many geologists and oil-business experts are saying we are at the brink of Peak Oil – when demand zooms up and there is not much left to drill.

What then? Prices zoom up. People suffer. Big Oil gets still richer. And to lessen the pain, either our government bribes and props up corrupt and oppressive governments of oil-rich countries to keep supplying us with cheap oil, or it sends our sons and daughters as soldiers to die and to kill. All to control the oil of our addiction.

What do we do? How do we break an addiction?

We must look both more deeply inward and more broadly outward.

Individuals and households must learn to live differently AND we must deal with the power of Big Oil, the drug lords, by changing public policy at city, state, corporate, and national levels.

Religious communities weave people together in deep and rich ways -- for life-cycle and festival celebrations, for prayer, for a sense of community. In these ways they can help "de-addiction" in values and behavior. What would Jesus drive? What is a Kosher Kar? Should Ramadan and Lent include a day each week for "fasting" from gasoline? Is the Hanukkah tradition that one day's sacred oil lasted eight days a teaching about conservation of energy, and can Hanukkah be made a "Beyond Oil" festival?

For The Shalom Center's "Green Menorah Covenant" in which synagogues and other Jewish groups can draw ion the Hanukkah tradition to meet standards of action to end America's oiloholic addiction and heal the wouinded earth, use the Website search engine for "Green Menorah" or go to --

Our churches, mosques, and synagogues can help us learn to conserve energy, use energy-efficient cars and furnaces, insulate our houses and community buildings, ride public transport, walk, bike.

In America, religious communities have often been crucial to movements for social change in public policy.

We are urging religious congregations to raise the question that frightens politicians out of their minds: What about a rising tax on gasoline, with the money going not to enrich Exxon Mobil but to support the poor and the middle class -- thriough direrct rebates, or through urgently needed programs like excellent public transport, support for research on and provision of sustainable energy, and /or paying the costs of universal health care for everyone?

And in the Jewish community, we are creating a "GREEN MENORAH COVENANT" for synagogues and other Jewish organizations to meet standards of care for the earth by moving Beyond Oil, toward achieving the Hanukkah level of "One Day's Oil for Eight Days' Needs" by 2020.

Maybe cities and states can not only "sign" the Kyoto treaty but start enforcing it, as California has begun to.

Charging large license fees for SUV's, for example, to defray the extra costs they impose on the public.

Rebuilding public transport that is cheap, energy-efficient, swift, convenient, and attractive.

Zoning for placing homes near workplaces, so as to encourage walking. "Walk for the cure? Walking IS the cure!"

So The Shalom Center has begun a major Beyond Oil campaign.

We intend this as a three-year effort. It is aimed mostly at the Jewish community, with a concern for interfaith work as well.

We have hired as Campaign Organizer Russ Agdern, an activist who lives near NYC. His Email is

Please respond directly to him as well as to Rabbi Arthur Waskow at

We see this effort as including people strongly motivated by at least one of these concerns and how it is tied to Oiloholic addiction:

O "global scorching";

O both wars like Iraq and US alliances with corrupt governments of oil-rich countries;
(both of these are ways of securing control over oil);

O asthma and other oil-related human health problems;

O Big Oil's super-profits;

O the impact of gasoline and heating-oil prices on the public;

O the difficulties of public transportation;

O Big Oil's antidemocratic hold on US politics;

O its impact on indigenous communities in Africa, Asia, and Latin America;

O and the possible social and economic impact of Peak Oil (when new supplies of oil fall far behind new demand, and prices rise radically along with the pressure to control sources and forestall other nations from doing so).

We intend to involve both people who are focused on bringing about lifestyle changes that will reduce addiction to oil, and people who are focused on changing public and corporate policy.

We are focusing our work on the corridor from Boston to Washington, but welcome involvement of communities throughout the country.

If you want to take part, please respond to both Russ Agdern and Rabbi Arthur Waskow and briefly explain your major concerns and focus. Write us at --

With blessings of healing for adam and adamah (the earth and human earthlings) --

-- The Shalom Center


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