It’s been a good day. I got a decent sleep, woke easily, had a peaceful and productive morning. I ate healthy food and got some exercise. Work was even good – a breakthrough on a big project, and it finally felt like spring outside. I saw little kids from the daycare at work rolling down the hill outside my office window. I have a full belly and a glass of wine. My family is safe and healthy. All in all, I am a very lucky person.
But under it all I have been thinking about Japan (yeah… who hasn’t? That’s old news by now, right?).
It’s fairly easy, I think, to be desensitized to the human tragedy of the quake and tsunami that we see when we turn on the news. It looks no worse than any number of manufactured Hollywood variations on the same theme. So I guess it’s a good thing, in the grand scheme of my conscience, that I am so very bothered by a particular aspect the nuclear threat that Japan is now facing.
It is one thing to enlist in the military, even during wartime, where, depending on your timing and your role, you have a risk, a chance of being wounded or killed. You can get up in the morning, and operate on the assumption that you will not. It’s how you get through the day.
It’s something else altogether to go into a situation with absolute certainty that you will die. And not from a quick shot to the head, either. The people who are working around the clock in that nuclear facility, trying to keep it from going all Roman Candle and killing millions over the next decades, those people will die. Soon. And it might be heroic, but it won’t be pretty, or peaceful. It will be horrible, and painful and extended. They know that – they are all fully informed, and motivated by honour and the greater good.
What can I say? Somehow it feels more honourable to me than, say, a suicide bomber, who blows himself up to make a point. If I break it down, maybe it’s because they claim to make their sacrifice in the name of God, where the Japanese martyrs are quietly making theirs in the name of people.
But no matter. They will die, so others might not. In the end, it’s admirable, full stop. In spite of the certainty of a painful death, they get through the day. We all owe them our gratitude, I think.