I will always remember some of the things I did on the day of the Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Disaster, other than monitoring the incoming reports on the TV news in stupefied horror, of course. Hopping about on one leg, while trying to put my pants on seemed a disproportionately difficult task that early morning. Holding the phone to my ear while talking to my wife, who happened to be in Seattle that day, didn’t make the effort any easier.
Glued to the tube of boobs, I felt an immeasurable rage and foreboding sense of powerlessness build inside of me, the likes of which I have never experienced. Clever words from inside my head, could never even come close to exploring the depths of those unfathomable feelings. Trapped like a fluttering bug in a bottle, I knew then that life on our planet had probably changed forever. I wanted to gather my wife and run…but where? To a brave new life in the southern hemisphere, perhaps?
Later that day, I stirred from my catatonic state long enough to wipe the drool from my face and stare out of our big picture window. A hundred yards below, my neighbor from our western flank was carrying out his annual controlled burn of his horse pasture. I watched as he disappeared, and then reappeared, in the wind-driven smoke, leaning smugly on his shovel as he checked the progress of the crackling flames. The problem was that he was standing squarely on my asphalt driveway, which is well past his property boundary.
My gut tightened as I saw the acrid smoke make a direct hit on my pigeon lofts and outdoor aviary, so thick that I could no longer see buildings or fence. We had discussed this before, with little result. He seemed to relish his penchant for selective hearing.
To say that this was a bad day for another trespass, and one more insolent and disrespectful act on his part would be an understatement. I could have handled it better, I admit. I was acting out, I know. But I had the full weight of the radiated world behind me, and their was no way of stopping the momentum of the Fukushima event. There is no doubt that I was able to convey my point of view to him that time. A line of communication was firmly established, and I have had no other issues with this particular fellow.
I am not proud of my interactions with my neighbor that day, and my blustering words still echo in my ears. For him, the earth may have stood still for a brief moment in time, but for different reasons than my own. Petty bickerings have no significance when compared to nuclear catastrophe. I can only associate it as a hollow and unsatisfying victory, on a day when the world shuttered and heaved.
It is strange how one can associate small, common moments in one’s life with world shattering events. I am sure we all have them. For example, at age four, I first became aware that the spoken word could touch your world from afar and shake you, perhaps forever.
It was the day that John F. Kennedy was murdered in hot blood, and also the day that I was introduced to the existence of radio. I was sitting on the front seat of our corvair, between my mother and my aunt, doing whatever young boys do to entertain themselves on a fine sunny day when trapped inside a moving metal box. I remember hearing the sound of the air constrict and freeze in their lungs as they absorbed the body blow of what they had just heard, and I began to listen too. Of course, I had no idea what was really happening, but I knew that it was important. I had never heard of JFK, and I had no understanding of presidents or politics. My mother could barely drive, and then pulled over, as her sister hugged her and they cried. I cried too, for them. It seemed like the right thing to do.
Likewise, I will always remember the day that JFK’s brother, Robert F. Kennedy died, as the day that I split my pants from stem to stern on the grade school playground. A large group of us were playing tag and running wildly on the green grass, and the next thing I knew I was being laughed at, taunted, and mocked. I sat embarrassed and mortified as I waited for my father to leave his job site and save me. It was a large happening in my young world, at that time, and I didn’t know then how I would ever get over it.
My attention shifted pretty quickly when my father picked whisked me away in his Cadillac. He didn’t say much, as he concentrated on the car radio, like my mother had done years before. The announcer spoke of assassination, murderous plots, and national grief. I barely knew who RFK was, and now he was dead too. My father was a rock of the world that other people had to step around. The bloody engagements and soul crushing events of World War II, The Battle of The Bulge, and worse, had not broken him, at least not in anyway that you could see. He did not cry, nor did I, in front of him. But it was obvious that he was struggling with his own private thoughts that morning, and doing his best to make sense of it all in his own way. He no doubt had some insights into the evil that man do. He had experienced it first hand. The death of Robert Kennedy had left a mark upon my father, and the world had suffered yet another crippling blow that we all shared.
Years later, I stood in the small parking lot of a used record store near the campus of the State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. I was gathering some records to trade from the backseat of my car. An older woman saw me there, bent over, and suddenly approached me from behind and shouted “He’s dead! Oh my god, oh no, He’s dead”. “Who’s dead, I blurted”? “John Lennon is dead, she wailed”. “They killed him!” It was all I could do to keep from dropping my albums on the hard, blue pavement.
I entered the record store and found several people sobbing in low murmurs, huddled in grief. My used vinyl no longer mattered to anyone. Later, I stood in wonder as an entire college town came to it’s knees in bewilderment, and mourned, in… silence. I will always associate it as a day when the music stopped throughout the land. I still hear a voice singing, pleading, to ”give peace a chance”, and then,…nothing. I did not cry that day, but I should have.
Other happenings remain indelibly transfixed upon my psyche. I first read the book “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson, when I was in the 7th grade. It changed my life forever, as it has changed and continues to change the awareness of people throughout the world. It was the first time that I was notified that the natural world I loved could be destroyed by the actions of careless and ignorant human beings. I was deeply troubled and upset. I wanted to discuss it with my classmates, but few seemed more than a little interested. They chattered on like brainless monkeys, while Love Canal percolated it’s witches brew and the rivers burned.
The ravaging effects of Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane and other life destroying pesticides and compounds had run amok, and Rachel Carson wanted everyone to know it. Most of all, she called on us to stop it. She made her announcements in the face of great ridicule, and personal peril. But her voice would be heard. I will always honor her courage, and her unstoppable resolve to plug the endless barrels of poison.
I was standing in the bottom of a ditch on a wet and dreary day on a New Jersey construction site the day I heard about Chernobyl. The talk at lunch grew worse, and when I returned to my labor the sky grew darker and I swung my pick and hacked at the earth like the ditch was filled with hissing serpents. I swung with all I had, but I could not prevent Chernobyl’s runaway reactions.
I don’t remember where I was when I heard of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, as it began it’s dark black journey and covered the tidal beaches in and about Prince William Sound, Alaska. I do remember hunting large game, as it hunted me too, on some of these very same beaches more than 15 years before. I will always remember the extreme wildness of the place, and the indescribable natural bounty of her waters and limitless shorelines. I feel the magnitude of lost life still pulsating in my veins. I don’t know if I could ever bear to stand upon those beaches again.
My solar plexus still hurts from listening to the radio for days on end as I worked at my office, trying to center myself in hopes that the terrifying news of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill might somehow bounce off my tightening abdominal muscles. It flowed for 3 months and by some estimates spewed 5 million barrels of oil before being capped, and I felt every drop of it. A persistent seep exists today, and the gulf still struggles to live. I may never breathe easily, again.
Looking back now, I can see the traces and shadows of unseen political hands in the deaths of John and Robert Kennedy, and John Lennon, too. These were not natural events at all, in fact completely the opposite. These results are manipulated and man-made. We see the unfortunate distractions and the mess, while the restless hands are busy behind the magic curtain.
The masters marvel at their destructive capabilities. They celebrate their deviousness, and race to exercise their control. We see only the endgame of complicated plans and never-ending schemes, discussed in dark corners in hushed tones and evil murmurings. They got their coup d’etat, and more, and we did nothing. The schemes are global now, and almost complete. The unseen hands now flash openly in the sun. If you doubt this, I invite you to take a good look around. You might not like what your eyes will see, once you learn how to look.
Still, they have gone too far. We may long for the day when all we had to worry about was the desperately thin and fragile shells of eagle eggs, and the numerous other side effects of DDT. Now we have the story of the disappearing honey bees and colony collapse disorder, and the discoveries of three-legged frogs who do not know if they be girls or boys. We grew bored with high-tech delivery systems of devastatingly effective pesticides. Now we just splice the mimicking agents within genetically modified organisms, which take over and dominate the natural order of all living things. They’re ready to eat too, pesticides and all. Imagine that. Even Rachel Carson could not have seen that one coming.
It wasn’t enough to worry about giant ocean tankers filled with crude being run aground by drunken sailors on top of some of the most ecologically sensitive areas on the planet. These days we drill down below miles of hostile ocean, and then miles below that, until the unbelievable pressures of it all explode and crack the sea bed. Not satisfied to spoil the oceans, we now move inland, to frack and fracture and contaminate all freshwater drinking supplies. It’s all just a careless experiment, and another day’s work for the slithering horde.
Perhaps we thought that we would all learn something from the horrors of the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster. We should have, after all. It was time then, and even before that, to admit the folly and incalculable risks of nuclear power. It’s a deciever’s dream, in fact a nightmare, dropped upon the back of all mankind.
What’s next in this escalating hit parade of environmental tragedies? They’ve already pierced the heart of the planet and set the sky on fire. A demonically engineered plague or two might suit their purposes. Or perhaps they can pry open an insatiable black hole, and let it loose to gobble us up?
Fukushima-Daiichi is what’s next. The crisis is far from over, and the fate of the world hangs in the balance. If the truth were known, it may already be the worst environmental catastrophe in the history of the human race. The empty promises and false hopes of our future science, will not fix it. We are but one earthquake away from the end of the world as we know it.
We must stop these madmen from doing more harm. They are merely modern-day mad hatters, poisoned by the vapors from their own industry, hubris, and conceit. They have counted coup upon us, and in their haste they may have destroyed themselves too. The time has come to show them the error of their ways, and of ours. Like the spoiled and overindulged children of hapless parents, we must rip away the vengeful toys they clutch, before they kill us all.
I would explain all of this to my neighbor, if I could, and if he would listen. I would try. I fear that train has left the station, headed for unknown destinations.
I don’t like to dwell on world events or pry in other’s business. I prefer to pay more attention to what’s under my nose, and in my backyard. Fukushima is vastly different. There is no where to run. The radiation plume is over my head now, and the tiny, unseen particles are on us, and in us. There will be consequences, whether I choose to deny their presence, or not.
But my personal reservoir of hope has long since run dry. The kind of strength I will need can only come from somewhere else, and in the hope of that I pray. For now, I cry for the people of Fukushima, and for all of Japan. I cry for all living things, large and small, and for our mother earth. I cry for the dying, and the unborn. I cry with you, or without. I cry for me, and for you.
I cry big, fat, irradiated tears which roll down my face, and wish that they can grow harmless, before they hit the floor.
“Our problems are man-made, therefore they may be solved by man. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings”. - John F. Kennedy