My husband Esteban came home agitated tonight. He’d spent the evening supervising a community sporting event. More than 100 people showed up, but Esteban didn’t view this as a success.

“America is doomed,” he said. “We’ve lost all touch with reality.”

“How do you figure?” I asked, taking the bait.

“Can you believe that every single one of those people drove to the event? I looked out at the parking lot, and I saw 10 acres of Lexuses and Hondas and Escalades. Not a single bicycle. No one walked there. Every single person arrived in a car. For a sporting event!”

“Maybe it’s because there aren’t any sidewalks,” I said.

“Maybe that’s part of it,” Esteban said. “Did you know that I have to drive to the Target across the street?” I was floored. His office is less than one block from the store, but it’s apparently too dangerous to attempt the walk.

I was left pondering the profound cultural shift we’ve experienced because of cars.

Many of my suburban friends rarely leave their vehicles: They go from their attached, heated garage to a parking ramp and back into their garage. They don’t need — or even want — sidewalks. They no longer know their neighbors. Their lives have become insulated, and they like it that way.

John Muir once wrote that “most people are on the world, not in it.”

I think this is especially true when we’re in the confines of a car.

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