SUVism taken to a new level

I often look at the people driving massive SUVs on the road and wonder why they drive these expensive autos, with their terrible environmental impact. Sure, there are people who need to be driving them. If you are a physician who needs to be able to get to the hospital in the middle of a snowstorm, you might need a car like this. If you’re a person who moves around large equipment, you might need this kind of car. But plenty of people use them just for driving to the grocery and back, or to take the kids to school.

When I ask people about their cars, SUV owners will often talk about the safety they afford — apparently without awareness of the studies showing the danger of rollover in SUVs. But I think that’s the real reason we Americans are in love with these big cars. In an uncertain time, they make us feel safe. The massive car makes us feel safe from unseen danger, and so we gravitate to them.

This transport-as-cocoon has gone to a new level. I give you this:

Russian billionaire and Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Abramovich is building a $400 million mega-yacht. Yawn, you say? You have two? OK, well, this yacht has its own submarine. And armor plating with bulletproof glass. And little boats that fit inside the bigger boat. And a frickin’ missile defense system that will alert he and his crew of 70 former SAS soldiers that there be pirates in those waters. It should be noted that Abramovich’s other yachts—the 377 ft. Pelorus, 282ft Ecstasea and 160ft Sussurro—all pale in comparison to the 550 ft. Eclipse, and do not include missile detection systems. You can never be too safe, right?

Wow. What’s next? We already have houses with “safe rooms.” We have people driving massive cars. And now we have boats with missile detection and underwater escape systems. To keep up, should I be ordering a Kevlar chasuble for the church? Should I equip my laptop with a Taser? Maybe our Eucharistic Ministers should get training in the martial arts, since you never know when someone might try to leap across the altar rail.

Or perhaps safety isn’t found in equipment and vehicles. Perhaps we need to spend more time listening to the voice that says, “Be not afraid.”

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