Japan, nuclear tsunamis and what is wrong with “progress”

I have a friend whose greatest dream was to go live in Japan for a while and study cinematography there. As things turned out, she finally secured a scholarship, and she is departing in a couple of days.

The Japan she is heading to is not exactly the same place she had dreamt of, but she is still happy to be going. In a matter of a few weeks, Japan was transformed from a thriving technological superpower into our planet’s weakest and most endangered spot, flooding oceans with radioactive water, losing whole cities to giant waves, and generally immerse in a state of despair.

Recently, Nobel prize winning writer Kenzaburo Oe wrote an article for the New Yorker about how intrinsically disrespectful of the memory of the nuclear bomb’s victims it was for Japan to keep developing its own nuclear power and building nuclear reactors.

These are the kinds of things we humans only seem to understand when our whole world falls apart, like it is now happening at Fukushima. This simple realization that nuclear power is a dangerous toy to play with, which should be very apparent after Nagasaki and Chernobyl. But it seems that it is not.

Meanwhile, we are waging wars, testing nuclear bombs underwater in oceans that once were clean and radiation-free, killing entire species of fish, deforming entire populations of generations to come, exhausting our natural resources and creating enough pollution to contaminate our whole solar system.

If ever there was a time to think of the planet and the values and examples we are leaving behind for generations to come, this is it. And donating money to tsunami victims is not gonna be enough. If this line of thinking, this belief in progress and always running after the latest gadgets and trying to have more expensive cars and fashionable computers has brought us here, maybe it is time to go back to basics, and find a way to enjoy the simple pleasures of life and everything our planet has to offer, without destroying it for our own selfish ephemeral benefit.

I just read an article in a German paper with a title that could be translated “Atomic power, enough is enough.” I wonder that we will forget, once this crisis is more or less under the rugs (because fully solved, it never will be; damage is done), and we will keep on, our usual way, psyched about the launching of the new iGadget of the moment, while our water is being poisoned, our forests erased and our souls sold to the highest bidder.

Nagasaki 1945

THE UNLEARNING (Montevideo, March 26th, 2011)

Japanese children
third generation
nuclear deformed

Play in a field
with Oppenheimer’s toy

I try to warn them
but my voice is gone

Caught in a wave
and waiting for the flood

The boats are sinking
and the apple’s rot

And human life
is no more concern
than the price of electronics

Nuclear test

In Purge we trust


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