What are you doing to support the war effort? Me? I’m riding my bike to work. And boy do I feel morally superior when I weave my way between those Lincoln Navigators, Ford Excursions and Cadillac Escalades dropping off kids at Sierra View Elementary. I feel good because I get to ride through Bidwell Park in the early morning along the swollen Big Chico Creek where the warmth of the sun suggests spring has arrived. People are jogging and walking, pushing fresh-faced infants in carriages or pulling aging, gray-faced dachshunds on leashes. I ride around these people—“coming up on your left”—and past a man walking toward me and wearing an orange turban. The tranquil ride is only briefly interrupted by the overhead roar of cars when I peddle under the Highway 99 overpass.

As I make this pleasant journey, a half a world away people are preparing for war. By the time you read this, war may have begun. If this war is indeed for oil, as some critics contend, then that resource must be worth fighting for. I know the war is about more than oil—nothing is ever that simple. But I do think the fossil fuel has something—in fact a very significant something—to do with letting loose our awesome war machine. But if oil is worth killing people, then we should use it judiciously. So I ride my bike to work, smug as can be. I wheel right past the highly coveted unmetered and vacant parking spots near work. I lock my bike to the rack near the sidewalk outside work. For the rest of the day, whenever the chance arises, I tell co-workers, “I rode my bike to work today. Look.” And I point proudly toward the secured bike and beam like an idiot. What a good guy I am.

Of course reality will set in next week when spring break is over and three times a week I have to go to Butte College. Ride my bike? Yeah right. Ride the bus? Who has the time? Besides, by the time I’m back behind the wheel of my internal-combustion-driven, carbon-monoxide-belching transportation machine, the war may well be over.

I’m not alone in my efforts. This week, the day after the president gave Saddam and his family the 48-hour notice to vacate the premises, I was buried with about 100 e-mails all carrying the same letter, addressed to the “Chico News & Review Headquarters.” It begins: “Dear Headquarters: Over the last few weeks, tens of thousands of Americans have been coming out to support our President and our troops at a series of ‘Rallies for America,’ held across the country from Washington D.C. to California.” The letter then asks why these rallies are not getting covered by the media. “There’s plenty of coverage of the Socialist-led anti-war demonstrations, complete with their vanguard of radical left-wing Hollywood ‘actors.’ But where is the coverage of these rallies of grassroots support? The silence coming from the major news media has been deafening.” The letter notes that March 22 and 23 is “Liberty Weekend” and that the writer is contacting me “to INSIST that you fulfill your journalistic obligations, by actually covering these upcoming rallies.” I have a “DUTY” to do so, the letter says.

The letter writers all live in California, from Canoga Park to San Pedro, Ben Lomond to Oceanside. I called Richard Carrick of Fresno. “Did you write this?” I asked. Carrick said he didn’t actually compose the letter; that it was sent to him by an organization that “keeps us informed on a lot of things that normally don’t get advertised.” The organization, “Conservative Alert,” encourages letter writing, or at least attaching your name to a form e-mail letter and passing it on to a newspaper. He wasn’t sure how the e-mail got from his computer to mine and said he does not consider himself a conservative, though in his opinion “the mainstream news, the TV networks ABC, CBS and so forth, are in their own little world where everybody else is stupid.” Carrick did offer that he thought FOX News was on the up and up. “They are pretty much down the middle and don’t give you an opinion as much as the rest of the networks do,” he said.

I think that the e-mail letter-writing campaign is just another way of supporting the war and is on par with my bike-riding effort during spring break. Patriots all.