This morning was unusually foggy in Melton, and as I set off in my hybrid car to work, a chill shivered down my spine. It was a cold 4°C, and the fog was as thick as homemade pea soup. Visibility was down to 50 metres, so I knew that the 50 km drive was going to be a slow one. So I turned on my fog and headlights and proceeded off on my trip, albeit at a much reduced pace.
As I made my way onto the Western Freeway towards Melbourne, and as I could only see one to two car lengths in front of me, I thought it would be prudent to only go at 90 kph, in the 110 kph zone. Stupidly, I also thought that the other drivers around me would also slow down for their own safety. This was not to be so. They raced past into the void that was the fog cloud at speeds of between 110 -130 kph, some with only driving lights on. I even spotted one imbecile in a 4WD with no lights on at all. It was at this stage that I began to picture images of a 50 car pile up a few kilometres ahead. I slowed to 85 kph, and increased my vigilance.
It was about now as visibility began to increase to about 500 metres that I had a revelation. The behaviour that I was witnessing on the road in the fog was exactly how most people view the future of our existence. The majority of them were racing headlong into the void, without any idea or fear of the pending events of climate change and peak oil that are approaching us all. It really scared me to witness people behaving without regard to their own safety, and without thought of the ramifications and emotional impact upon their families, if, heaven forbid, a accident of their own making came upon them from their own stupidity. But alas, who was I, travelling at 85 kph in a 100 kph zone, to change their minds. I was looking after my own skin, and in a small way, trying to set an example for other drivers.
Then a funny thing happened. Other drivers began to slow down and line up behind me. I thought this very strange, because there was ample room for them to pass me as before. By the time we got closer to the city and the visibility increased to about 2 kilometres, there was a line of about 10 safety conscious drivers lined up behind my car. All had their lights on, and all making the choice to follow a leader. Yes friends, I was that leader. By setting an example for others, I gave them the perceived choice or excuse to follow me at a safe speed to get to work alive, but possibly late, or zoom past into the abyss to the potential 50 car pile up ahead. Thankfully, there were no massive accidents on the way into work this morning, however as I have described, there was a real danger of it eventuating. This may also be so with climate change and peak oil, and the effects may be mild and easy to adapt to, but I would rather take the necessary action now to avoid these two things in the first place rather than racing off headlong into the void. It is basic risk management 101, and simple common sense.
It also then dawned on me that this is exactly how I behave normally in every day life. I lead by example. I don’t set out to do this consciously, as I think it was drummed/brainwashed into me whilst serving in the Navy; however I make no apologies for who I am. So if that makes me a leader in everyday life and all things sustainable living like, then great. So be it. I reckon that the world needs a few more people willing to stand up for what is right, and not meander through life like the sheeple (baa!) that most of humanity has become.
So, I will continue to do what I do, on the journey towards a sustainable lifestyle, never knowing quite where this trip will take me or my family who are following, however I feel safe in the knowledge that we are well prepared physically and mentally for whatever lays in front of us.
A man said to me a long time ago, “Gav, make up your mind. Lead, follow, or get out of the bloody way!” I can’t to this day remember who said it, but they were very wise words indeed. I try to live by them each and every day.