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If it Bleeds it Leads

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
April 29, 1999


Tired and hung over from too much schmoozing, I am now faced with a post Earth Day buzz. For the rest of the year it will be business as usual, which means lack of interest of anything green accept money. I have to admit that this year, earth awareness was over shadowed by the chest thumping in Kosovo, and the TV reality of the Trenchcoat Mafia in Littleton. On April 22 the mainstream media did not mention Earth Day, as far as I can tell.

Now before anyone says environmental horror stories pale in comparison to high school shootings, let me be the first one to tell you they are one in the same. When Channel 10 cut to the rampage live from Columbine High, the only picture available were taken from a news copter circling the school. The first thing the struck me was how unsurprising the whole thing was. Can you say over-population?

The school was one big box, so much so it looked like a mall. It does not seem unreasonable to think that if you pack 1,800 kids into a confined space, sooner or later, some of them are going to snap. At one point one young victim had to break a second floor window to get out of the building. These kids were trapped when the shooting started, by windows that wouldn't open. The equation now includes 1,800 kids, in a building with no natural ventilation.

Now add to that a state that was about to host the annual National Rifle Association, a state that is currently debating a "Freedom to Carry" bill. Again, how can one be surprised when the Colorado State legislature is entertaining the idea of allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons. As the boys in black have shown us, you can conceal a lot of weapons under a trench coat. Let's see that's 1,800 kids, an air-tight suburban high school, and a gun happy state. Yet all the talking heads on the television keep using words like unexpected and unimaginable. Am I missing something?

How can anyone consider violence as unimaginable at a time when   bombs are being dropped on Kosovo and Yugoslavia? Bombs in Oklahoma City, The World Trade Center, and the Nairobi Embassy. "Smart outsider with bombs" could just as easily describe Ted Kaczynski.

Here in San Diego County we too are familiar with random violence. Sixteen year-old Brenda Spencer shooting up a schoolyard because she didn't like Mondays, the San Ysidro Mc Donalds Massacre, and Matthew Checchi's abrupt end are just a few examples of home grown horror. I stopped being shocked about the time of Jonestown. As soon as they started poisoning the Kool-aid I knew we were in trouble.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is what the Chaos theory looks like. And as long as human populations continue to increase, incidents of random violence, as well the body counts, will do likewise. Over population shows it's face in many ways. Whether it's road rage in California, shootings in Colorado, or starvation in North Korea, sooner or later it affects us all. But enough of this grim talk.

On Monday, April 19, Mayor Sheila Cameron, and City Council members Christy Guerin and James Bond, were joined by students from Pacific View Elementary, and members of the Cottonwood Creek Conservancy as the planted three cottonwoods at the corner of Third and B St. in Encinitas. Mayor Cameron named one of the native trees Grace in memory of her mother, and at my request the council members named the other two trees Al and Jackie. Al is the one in the middle.

On Earth Day, last Thursday, I and other members of the Moonlight Creek Park Association planted a Torrey Pine named Lady Bird. As crazed as I have been for the last month, April is the month of the year when the general populace is willing to set some time aside for the environment, it was important that I step away from the computer, and get my hands dirty.

Planting native trees is very therapeutic. During the times when I have worked myself into a rage due poor planning and disregard for the environment, getting my hands dirty is the best way to channel negative thoughts into positive action. At both of these tree plantings the media was in attendance, so not only were we able to make-up for a tiny part of the loss of native habitat, we also had the chance to educate local reporters. It was a good week.

Hopefully, Earth Day 2000 will be violence free. That way we can spend the day as it was intended, talking about the violence currently being visited upon the plants and animals that share this planet with us.

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