Environment Sustainability

Keep on the Sunny Side

Atherton Wetland
140th Street – June 9

BIG GROVE TOWNSHIP— The flood water is receding on the Atherton Wetland, bringing hope the Iowa River and Coralville Lake have crested despite today’s rain. It’s good news at a time we need it.

All hell is breaking out on the national scene, and it is not good. Where to start?

Sergeant Robert Bales’ cold-blooded killing of 16 non-combatant men, women and children in Kandahar province in Afghanistan came to light and defies reason. According to NBC News, Bales didn’t know why he did it. According to the article, “Bales’ lawyers have said the married father of two suffered from PTSD and brain injury after four combat deployments and was under the influence of drugs and alcohol the night of the raids on family compounds in Kandahar province.” There had to have been more wrong than this. The massacre points to another failure of military leadership.

There was news that the Central Intelligence Agency didn’t always know who it was targeting and killing with drone-launched Hellfire Missiles in Pakistan. The article reported, “about one of every four of those killed by drones in Pakistan between Sept. 3, 2010, and Oct. 30, 2011, were classified as ‘other militants’… The ‘other militants’ label was used when the CIA could not determine the affiliation of those killed, prompting questions about how the agency could conclude they were a threat to U.S. national security.” That non-combatants were the target of the CIA drone program was no surprise to those of us following reports from inside Pakistan, but the revelation was shocking nonetheless. The news makes timely the Covering Ground to Ground the Drones action this week in Iowa by Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

Finally, the news that the N.S.A. is monitoring metadata from our phone calls and information from a number of major Internet service providers was chillingly Orwellian. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd quoted George Orwell’s 1984 yesterday, “there was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to.”

For one, I was prepared to be constantly monitored by God’s omniscience by my Catholic upbringing. The federal government is no one’s god, and this intrusion on privacy, while apparently supported by all three branches of the federal government, just isn’t right.

In a turbulent world, these national issues are a distraction from work toward sustainability. As the Ada Blenkhorn/J. Howard Entwisle song the A.P. Carter family used to sing goes,

There’s a dark and a troubled side of life;
There’s a bright and a sunny side, too;
Tho’ we meet with the darkness and strife,
The sunny side we also may view.

Here’s to keeping on the sunny side as it will help us every day and may brighten our way. At least the flood waters are abating… for now.