No environmental impact

Concerned individuals are making strenuous efforts to avoid or clean up pollution in their physical environment. Shouldn't we be as determined to preserve the purity of our mental environment?

The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) has become a symbol of the growing concern for protecting the physical environment in the United States. Whenever a new commercial project or housing development is proposed, one of the first steps insisted upon by many local governments is the preparation of an EIR. The EIR takes into account various kinds of pollution —noise, traffic, odor, vibration, and so forth—and the ecological changes the new development would impose on its surroundings. And the report may suggest measures to deal with unwelcome effects. The EIR is obviously a step toward protecting the physical environment we all share.

But as useful as EIRs can be, we need to be just as watchful of mental pollutants. For example, what can we do to protect ourselves and our loved ones—and mankind at large—from harm in an environment that bombards us daily with accounts of terrorist acts, diseases, accidents, financial deficits, energy and food shortages, arms races? How can we deal with the fear, anger, revenge, cynicism, and a sense of deprivation that seem to be the impact of such a barrage?

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Second Thought
February 8, 1988
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