Iowans are blessed with two of the greatest gifts that could ever be given - the gift of bountiful and rich natural resources that provide a dynamic social and economic vitality, and a special set of citizens who respect and enjoy that bounty and the livelihood and cultural value it provides.
On occasion there are signs of disregard or disrespect for the place where we live.
Yes, there are times when we can improve our behavior. The important part is to make sure that we continue to appreciate what we have been given to care for - not only for us but for those yet to come - the future generations. In today's "green" terms it is called "sustainability," in biblical terms it is called "stewardship."
Stewardship reflects the sense of civility in caring for and supporting those around us - our friends, neighbors, relatives and those we don't even know but have special needs. Stewardship of the land means caring for it in such a manner that it will continue to produce the products we need and depend on, the outdoor values and natural beauty important to our lives, and the water that we use and consume.
Iowans understand that taking a short term gain by destroying the resource is not an option. Maintaining and managing the resource to continue to produce for the long run is the valued option, be it land, energy, water or air. Most Iowan's know when their actions are destroying or consuming the resource in such a manner that it doesn't give future Iowan's the opportunities we have had.
Littering may not initially appear to be important, however, it reflects not only a disregard for the environment and the resources but also indicate a lack of concern for the other citizens who appreciate and take pride in a clean and attractive Iowa. It also is a precursor to the potential disregard of other elements of common courtesy and the law, i.e. jaywalking, public nuisances, water pollution, illegal dumping, etc. If we can break one law and get away with it, why not break another law and another law? Soon, that type of behavior becomes a pattern of action. It reflects a lack of civility and disrespect.
Let's make sure that all Iowans treat our gift of Iowa with the greatest respect and a keen sense of stewardship - leaving a State which future generations can be proud of. Make your resolution for the New Year to improve our State and Keep Iowa Beautiful.
(Gerald F. Schnepf, Executive Director, Keep Iowa Beautiful, Web Page: www.keepiowabeautiful.com)