an overcast afternoon during which about a dozen
mostly familiar faces gathered in the conference
room of Bethel United Church of Christ for an Earth
Day observance and to discuss the local environment
of Southwestern Indiana.
Meanwhile, the airways were filled with the comments
of the Monday morning quarterbacks in the news media
-- Christian televangelists and others attempted to
find the proper vocabulary to explain the tragic
episode that took place in Columbine High School in
During the week there were no fewer than three such
* A speech at the University of Southern
Indiana by the renowned attorney Jan Schlichtmann,
whose legal exploits representing the parents of
sick and dying children in Woburn, Mass -- the
result of industrial water pollution -- were
portrayed in the movie "A Civil Action."
* A panel discussion and several other
presentations at Bethel Church featuring Linda King
of the Environmental Health Network, a
nationally-recognized expert on environmental
pollution who addressed food safety and herbal
remedies to rid our bodles of toxic chemicals to
which we are exposed.
* Presentations by Dr. Alfred Johnson of the
Environmental Health Center of Dallas and by King.
little in the way of advanced publicity and public
announcements from the sponsors these presentations
generated a few column inches of copy in the Courier
& Press and with the exception of the Schlichtmann
speech, were poorly covered by the local television
and radio stations.
bring to a close this annual observance of
environmental awareness, Valley Watch and about 15
local activists marched down Main Street in a March
for Clean Air.
news coverage, while better this time, was quick to
observe the sparse attendance at the rally.
Locally, for many years, those who express an
intense concern about the quality of air, water and
land-use issues which affect us on a daily basis
remain puzzled as to how so many people can remain
in such deeply rooted denial as to the seriousness
of the environmental imperatives around us.
raise the issue of one plant -- GE Plastics in Mount
Vernon, Ind. -- emitting one-third the amount
of cancer-causing chemical toxins of the entire
state of California, a state in which fully
one-fifth of the entire U.S. population resides.
Elsewhere in the world, we are witnessing the
eradication or deformations of many species of
trees, flowering plants, birds, fish, whales and
frogs and other threatened animal populations.
express concern for the overpopulation of abandoned
domestic animals in our local detention facility but
fail to see the hand of individual men and women in
all of this.
it is within this context that we return to the
issue of the senseless murders in Littleton.
Linda King made reference to the waning enthusiasm
in environmental matters as representing the
detachment that post-industrial man has evolved from
Beyond the Spaceship Earth rhetoric, and the
beautiful images we frequently see of our planet, we
who remain publicly concerned continue to wonder,
"Where is everybody?"
as Mother Nature attempts to communicate with us as
a species, through beached whales and three-legged
frogs, the perverse actions of the children in
Littleton are screaming out serious warnings as to
the extent to which we have become detached from one
another -- as individuals, as neighborhoods, as
churches, as institutions and as communities.
There are no political solutions. We must look
to the nature of the human heart.
Until we fully address this heart-wrenching denial
which afflicts us, the most prosperous nation in the
world, we can expct no more or less than similar
senseless acts of violence and environmental
David Coker of Evansville is a free-lance writer.