On Our Own Heads

Today officials announced that the Japan nuclear crisis has matched Chernobyl in severity. Not surprising, really – I think we’ve all been expecting this news as we’ve watched the natural earthquake and tsunami disaster unfold into a man-made nuclear one.

In some ways Japan’s crisis reminds me of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The hurricane itself was among the strongest and most deadly in history. But who can forget what happened in New Orleans, when the levee failed and flooded 80% of the city? Looting, rioting, violence, a poorly designed levee system, and a flawed government response made this disaster much worse.

Like New Orleans, Japan faces two stages of this disaster — The first stage is a completely natural event that insurance policies call an “act of God.” The second stage is man-made.

But we can’t blame the Japanese, not really. Had humans not abused fossil fuels to the extent that we even need nuclear power plants, this might not have happened. Better yet, if humans weren’t so greedy and arrogant in their need for control and profit, the world as a whole would use less energy and perhaps this might not have happened.

In Obadiah 1:15 we read that “The day of the Lord is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.”

Unfortunately, nuclear fallout fits the bill quite literally. Radioactive particles in the air descend on surfaces and remain there, invisible cancer-causing toxins just waiting to mutate DNA. But it’s not just about the environment.

It’s about the heart.

Nuclear reactors were first used in the military, as a way to conquer. To win. As we saw in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, winning comes at great cost. Nuclear weapons are the ultimate war-time trump card.

But nuclear energy doesn’t have to be all bad. Now we use nuclear energy as an environmentally-friendly way to sustain our way of living. To sustain our increasingly indulgent, technology-driven, competitive lifestyle. To conquer and win – in the home, in business, in the stock market, and in world politics.

How is that any different?

As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.

3 thoughts on “On Our Own Heads

  1. Hi Anna,
    All a bit scary really. I get the impression that this is being played down at the moment but has the potential to get ugly.
    Your final analysis concerning the technological progress of the world just makes me yearn for the simple life. Too much tech, too much consumption, too much stuff, just way too much.
    I find myself being envious of the simple farmer who enjoys labouring with his hands and gives thanks to God for His daily provision. But maybe that’s just a stupid fantasy, and certainly an almost unachievable dream in my world.
    Buying and selling, commerce, consumerism, excess consumption, all marks of a certain system.
    Take care.


  2. Hi Tim, thanks for the comment and sorry for the very late response. At times I find myself wishing for the simplicity of the Amish, how they keep themselves free from our modern complicated world — set apart. But I don’t know if I could live without air conditioning. And I certainly see the irony — me writing this blog, on the web, on my laptop, in my air conditioned home. Indirectly and unintentionally, I feed the same system I lament.


  3. I’m a big fan of carefully thinking about our acts. And nuclear power is clearly unsustianable. (If the benefits exceded the risks nuke plants would have normal insurance. They do not. No insurance company will cover them because the financial risk grossly excedes the ability to pay into a risk pool and make profit.)

    But technology is not “nice” for things like air conditioning and communication. Technology has saved far more lives than it has cost, and removed far more suffering that it has caused. There is no nuclear medicine without understanding of the same principals that allows nuclear power. It saves lives. If you take the time to really study the “simple life” most of the people who live it find it full of misery. The Amish lead simple lives because one (1) they aren’t that simple. They use laptops to keep track of their business financess, for instance. (The Ordnung doesn’t forbid electricity. It forbids most people from having power to their homes.) (2.) We didn’t develop technology by accident. We invented the washing machine because not having one was drudgery.

    And buying and selling are marks of something good: freedom to trade. You don’t want to live a world without that. That too much is your choice. Buy less and love more. You don’t have to play the game to enjoy the fruits of it (as the Amish show).


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