I used to joke with my peace-movement friends, telling them I might self-immolate in front of the White House to make a statement about war. And, then, I’d laugh, saying there was just one glitch in the plan—I’d require so much Valium I’d be unable to strike the match.
For weeks, I’ve thought about a 26-year-old Tunisian man. Mohamed Bouazizi, educated, jobless, unable to feed his family, and desperate, doused himself with gasoline and died from his burns. This sacrificial act triggered the uprising in Tunisia and inspired other people across North Africa to do the same.
We are witness to revolution, civil wars, in which ordinary people are demanding basic rights.
Lately, I’ve been obsessing about the catastrophe of Fukushima, a crescendo of events more devastating than Chernobyl.
I imagine a moment, that monumental leap of stepping from one category to another, when discussing the pros and cons delivers a decision. So huge is the verdict to build nuclear power plants that the words “entombment” and “sarcophagus” are uttered. Too late. And the concept of nuclear power becomes a kind of mass immolation, premeditated murder. If all hell breaks loose because the center will not hold, death blazes, claiming first those nearby and eventually many others.
I am so sad for Japan, sad for the planet.
Radiation is dirty dancing across Earth.
We can blame the greed masters, the nuclear energy corporations whose C-levelers, executives, boards, and stockholders profit. And the politicians they own. We can wonder if they ever can be satiated. Do they believe they’re winning a contest? That old joke about owning the most toys by life’s end? Do they think their money will provide safe haven from the fallout of their folly?
Missy Beattie is sleepless in Baltimore. To reach her, try firstname.lastname@example.org.