When I was in high school I learned about the bombing of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, radiation sickness and Biochemical warfare. I did not hear about this from my parents or anyone else. This was not a subject taught in my classes at an accredited college prep school. This was something I simply ran across, being that I was commuting to private school and liked to read a lot. I had to stay late in order to do rehearsals for plays I was in put on by the drama dept, and the school had a small but excellent library. In short, I learned about these horrors in BOOKS.
After learning about strontium-90, atomic energy “tests” at Los Alamos, and the fact that there is nothing that can stop nuclear radiation, I began to have a recurring nightmare periodically. In my nightmare I’d find myself in a city alone. It would take me a few minutes to realize everything was too quiet and that the city was deserted with no one around. I’d call out several times and then become terrified at the echoes of my own voice. I’d start running around frantically. It would dawn on me that everyone was gone because an atomic bomb was coming, and if not that, radiation was coming. Silent, deadly, inescapable, to kill everything living. I would feel an enormous urge to claw up anything I could find and bury myself, then wake up sweating and terrified. I spent months sitting in my class in the upper classrooms of the private school looking out the window to a sunny blue sky seeing anything flying as a death plane coming to deliver the end of the world.
I knew better than to try and talk to anyone about my nightmare. I knew I would not be listened to and my terror dismissed, particularly at home. I don’t know why I didn’t ask my teachers at school about this. They might have talked to me but I never gave them the chance. I was so used to being marginalized, so fragile in my isolated little world of long hours of commuting alone to school that I didn’t trust I could bring up the unspeakable truth and survive socially.
Now here it is 39 years later, and the nightmare is back. All the technology, the luxuries, comfort and privileges I’ve had most of my life suddenly seem like a very long, borrowed time bliss dream I didn’t realize I was having. There is no escape from radiation and the realization that we, as a species, are incapable of ” managing Nuclear Power”. Why is it even called that? We have no business having nuclear plants anywhere in the world or atomic bombs, period the end. Nuclear is death, not just of human beings, but of all life on earth. Radioactively contaminated soil, air and water is forever. What is it about those facts that a significant mass of people don’t understand? I understood it as a junior in high school. What we have here is mass hypnosis and denial which is killing our planet.
Even Steven Spielberg has exploited the fantasy that nuclear energy is nothing to worry about in his latest Indiana Jones movie, putting an aging Harrison Ford in the story at a test site who emerges from a nuclear explosion without a scratch from a refrigerator he jumps into just before the blast. I’m not disgusted, I’m horrified and the nightmare is not over.
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