I bumbled into the bike industry because I did not want to take part in the destructive economy. I wanted to support games any number of people could play. I wanted to sell and service something I did not need to be ashamed of in any way.
The bike industry in the 1990s proceeded to act pretty shamefully, but they seem to be getting their scruples back now. Some of them, anyway. It's still one of the best games in town. Alternative energy is another one, but it threatens the establishment even more than the idea of a bunch of people happily using bikes for transportation, so it has attracted more sabotage from the established energy economy. Beside that, bicycling offers benefits right now to anyone who will take it up. Those benefits only increase as social and political forces begin to support it rather than neglect or oppose it. It's cheap to start and rewarding to continue.
The work itself does not always tax my ingenuity, so it's a good place to think the kind of big thoughts I've always enjoyed. The money's not great and I will certainly die an agonizing death if I get any kind of serious illness, even a treatable one, but it's a bit of a war effort. I hate that it has to be that way, but humans always test each other's commitment by seeing how willing the other side is to face death and destruction for what they believe.
War is the wrong metaphor. It's a long non-violent life by example in a world where coercion has been the norm for centuries. "Do it or I'll hurt you. Do it or I'll kill you," have been accepted arguments throughout human existence. How often has someone advised you to stop doing something if you know what's good for you? Yet you still see recruiting ads for the armed forces. Talk about something that might not be good for you!
"That's different," the argument goes. "You're serving a higher purpose." So trying to make the world a better place to ride a bike isn't a higher purpose? You're more likely to do that by promoting the idea that niceness is better than fierceness and by working on fun, durable equipment and holistic traffic planning than by saber rattling and cranking up the paranoia. Not to say that we don't, regrettably, still need sabers and people to carry them, for the moment. But view that as a small (and hopefully shrinking) aspect of the whole equation.
I wanted to live in a world where every traveler was a good guest who found a warm welcome. I still do.