2019 Rider Profile: Jason Whitney

Meet Jason Whitney, fifth in the 2019 series of rider profiles.  Get to know the riders for the PA to DC rides as the series unfolds, then follow the trips!  Learn more.  Donate.

This is my third ride from State College to Washington D.C.  I also rode in 2014 and 2018.  This ride means the world to me.  There is something about getting to our nation’s capital under one’s own power that is a sort of self-efficacy and political-efficacy starter kit, and shows what positive things can come from becoming involved in high-quality groups like Interfaith Power & Light.   

This capital we ride to is not just any capital.  This is the capital of the United States of America, where we riders walk the halls of Congress and

talk to some of the people most in the position to impact climate change.  It’s an incredible opportunity.  

By riding we are facing up to one of the biggest problems facing humanity.  Climate change is a symptom of something deeper within ourselves and our society, and our inaction as individuals and as a society are indicative of a state of denial, an inability to face up to an extended planet-guzzling binge. 

In one of my roles, I am the Program Coordinator of the Penn State Collegiate Recovery Community, a Program of Student Affairs that supports students in recovery from addictions.  For years, the main way I’ve conceptualized human-influenced climate change is as a type of addiction to fossil fuels and a compulsive lifestyle of excess consumption — the action of these addictive habits present like a chronic disease that requires major ongoing lifestyle and societal changes.  

Like all serious illnesses, the mere hope of initiating and sustaining remission is often not enough, and in time, the behaviors return, and when left unchecked continue in their runaway progression.  I also know that almost nobody sustains any kind of major lifestyle changes without the help and ongoing support of a community of others who help them remain invested in recovery.  I also know that when people become part of something larger than themselves, they can make miraculous transformations and contribute tremendously to solving some of the most difficult problems facing humankind.  

Think equating man-made environmental destruction with addiction seems too farfetched?  Funny, but it’s not that hard to adapt the 12-steps of Alcoholics Anonymous to one that addresses this problem instead of alcoholism.  I believe we could all stand to benefit by taking up a recovery program in this area — both as individuals, and as a nation — and that if we did so, we could help make a spiritual and worldly recovery from the environmental catastrophe we’ve wrought:  
The 12 Steps of Recovery from Climate Change:

  1. We admitted that we were powerless over our emission of fossil fuels and our consumption of the planet’s resources and that our climate changes had become more unmanageable and destructive with each passing year.  
  2. We came to believe that a Higher Power could restore us to sanity. 
  3. We turned our will and our lives over to the care of a Higher Power that might allow us to make the necessary changes to confront the problem.  
  4. We took a personal inventory of all of our defects of character that negatively impact God’s creation, both as individuals and as a nation.  
  5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to other human beings the exact nature of our personal —and our nation’s — shortcomings.  
  6. We became ready to have God remove all of these defects of character.
  7. We asked God to remove all these defects of character.
  8. We became ready to make amends by restoring God’s creation wherever possible.
  9. We commenced to repair and restore and preserve those aspects of God’s creation for which we were responsible, both individually and as a nation. 
  10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we found ourselves lapsing we promptly commenced to change for the better.
  11. We sought through prayer and mediation to discover God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we carried the message of caring for God’s creation and continued to practice these principles in all our affairs.  

Thanks for supporting the ride!  WASHINGTON D.C. or BUST!!!

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