Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Electric Cars

I read Tom Friedman's column in this morning's New York Times with great interest. You can read the column here. He discusses an Israeli inventor, Shai Agassi, who may very well change the way we drive around our suburbs. You can read Agassi's blog here. I am unsure what I think about Agassi's idea—although it stirs my Jewish kishkes that he is Israeli. I have been driving a car and filling a car with gas for nearly thirty years. It is hard to imagine breaking such habits. I am unsure if the idea can even work. Yet his idea gives me hope. It says: there are people who are trying to change the way we get to and from places so that we can alter our dependence on oil. There are people who understand that we must change course. It saddens me that the American auto industry fails to grasp how much it must turn, that the world needs it to change. This industry should be leading us. I should be reading about their inventions instead of their need for billions of dollars. Detroit helped to build this country. Henry Ford revolutionized the industrial world. Yes I am aware and it is impossible to forget that he used his profits for evil ends when he distributed the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. But in the ark of a Detroit synagogue—hmm could that be my brother's synagogue?—there rests a Torah donated by Henry Ford's great grandson. In that Torah are to be found the teachings of hope and our capacity to change. We can change. We must change. Whether or not it will be Agassi's idea or another's, Hummers should no longer dot our suburban landscape. I hope GM, Chrysler and Ford can recover the leadership they once offered this country and lead us through the next revolution in driving. I hope my grandchildren have to ask me, "Grandpa, what is a gas station?" I hope they don't have to ask me "What is a Ford?"

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