Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Beware the Ides of March, indeed

The Ides of March - a recurring theme on this blog. (What can I say? I'm an English major dork, remember?) This year seems to the most beware-worthy in recent memory for me, what with the whole potential catastrophic nuclear meltdown disaster happening one island away, in Japan. It's so very sad, for all involved. Today's news seems to have become more grim throughout my work day, with official Japanese government announcements about the harmful radiation and whatnot. It's kind of a mystery what we would even do if there is more radiation spewed from a future explosion AND the prevailing winds do shift to bring it to Korea. I mean, we'd see it on the news and tap into the expat teachers network and hope our boss is helpful and see what everyone else is doing, I suppose. It's really weird to contemplate experiencing such a massive scale disaster - even one that is still theoretical - in another language, especially a language in which I am about Level 1.5 out of 10. We'll see. I speak even less Japanese, so good thing I'm not there.

A lot of people are talking about how this has made them suddenly "rethink" their pro-nuclear energy stance. I find that interesting for two reasons.

1. OK, so our process of getting/harvesting/using nuclear energy is not guaranteed to be totally safe. I think that is fair to say. Even with the many precautions, wholly unforeseen events can happen in terrible combinations. The thing is, though, NONE of our processes of getting the vast amount of energy our "lifestyles" require are totally safe. Think back on two of 2010's most gripping news stories: the BP Oil Spill and the rescue of the Chilean miners. There you go: two ways of getting energy that are not guaranteed to be totally safe. There are always risks. We ask a lot of our planet, and we can't pretend that there aren't costs.

2. It's so - reactionary! For the last decade, roughly since September 11, I have been struck time and time again by how reactionary the U.S. tends to be. (Think instituting a shoe removal policy in airports after the shoe-bomber incident, etc.) I'm not saying people shouldn't react to things. I mean, sure, you can close the barn door to prevent any more horses from leaving, if there are any left. But I'm continually struck by how many incidents bring out the reactionary hysteria, clamor or outrage, and how few times I observe forward-thinking, thoughtful, progressive philosophy or discussion. I'm sure some people blame it on the news cycle, MTV-generation attention spans, or what have you. I don't know what the root cause is, but it's really widespread.

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