Einstein

Darl. Hearings: Carrie L. (March 31st)

I presented my remarks to the Darlington New Nuclear Plant  Project Joint Review Panel right after Carrie Lester last Thursday evening. Her remarks were so ... heartfelt...so moving...so articulate, I prefaced my own remarks to the JRP by saying I felt Ms. Lester had said it all & there wasn't much left for me to say. Thanks, Carrie, for letting me post your presentation!

S T O P D A R L I N G T O N

~The Burden of Truth~

Greetings to the members of the Darlington New Nuclear Power Plant Project Joint Review Panel, and audience members,

My name is Carrie Lester, from Toronto. I am “Onkwehonwe” which is the Bearfoot Onondaga from Six Nations.

In regards to Nuclear Energy, as simply a human being of this planet, my Mother Earth, your Mother Earth, I am going to address the Burden of Truth as it applies to our health all of our health. My health; the health of my family and friends; the health of your relations, and my relations; the health of the soil, the air, the water in and around Lake Ontario, where I live, and where my ancestors on my mother’s side have lived for thousands of years.

Segoli – Ga’un’ghwa Desa’na:sga’qua gia:jih,

Ogwai Osida niwa geh seh dehn,

Onondagaega niwa go wehn jyoh dehn

(That’s my name, my clan, and my nation).

There was a time when there was no cancer sickness here on Turtle Island. It arrived with the settling of the newcomers, and their need to do things faster, better, more ‘efficiently’, but that detached from the connection to Mother Earth, with the continued industrialization of the land, as was being practiced on the other side of the world.

Toxic waste from industry has infiltrated our world, from so many different sources, that we here in an urban setting find it difficult to be able to pinpoint exactly where each industrial toxin has come from, and what each toxin will do to us; however, the people from places like Fort Chippewa in Alberta know exactly where their cancerous poisons are coming from: the Tar Sands.

I recently attended a funeral for a friend; no, let me correct that: I attended TWO funerals ... for friends of mine whom I had got to know through my children, their school, and after school activities. After attending both funerals, I discovered that there were two other funerals that same day, from the same neighbourhood. I also learned of three other deaths of parents whom I had only briefly known, but who had also died recently ... within the past two years. All of them were parents in their late forties / early fifties with children in their late teens / early twenties. They all died from cancer. They all had raised their families in that same neighbourhood for those twenty years.

This neighbourhood was not in Clarington, or Bowmanville, or Darlington; but it was in Toronto. It had been an industrial area during the Second World War, but had since become a rather prestigious neighbourhood, with many tear-down bungalows becoming two-story million dollar homes.

Just before hearing of the deaths of these friends, I had attended a film screening / book launch of Sandra Steingraber’s story called “Living Downstream”, which, if you are not familiar with, is the story of, in general, how we are ALL now living downstream from some pollutant, and in particular, it is Sandra’s story of her survival with cancer, and wondering when it will come to get her again. It is also a story of discovery for Sandra, as she begins to question her cancer, and other cancers in her neighbourhood, and then the clusters of cancers throughout her state, and neighbouring states, and finally that of the whole of America, with a brief look at Canada and then how it can be applied to any community throughout the world.

I had also been to another book launch right after the Living Downstream film / book. This one was called 'Sea Sick', and was about the condition of the earth’s ocean the one ocean that is surrounding us, and what we have to the lifeblood of our Mother, the Earth.

One of the daughters of my friend who had died posted a message on her Facebook, asking everyone who has been affected by cancer in one way or another to pass on her message of hope, hope for a cure to come this year so that nobody else has to die from cancer, from how she had seen her mother’s body ravaged with this cancer. And she posted this to all her contacts on her Facebook.

I responded by saying,

“... it's not so much that a cure is needed (although that would be nice) ... it's that we must stop the lifestyle that produces it. We've contaminated our Mother Earth so horribly in only 150 years of the billions of years that this world has been in existence. The Industrial / Chemical / Technological Revolutions have all got us to this point. The toxins are everywhere now ... not just in our water, air and land, but in the cosmetics and hygiene products, our clothes, bedding, paints, plastics, toys, baby products, etc, etc ... a ‘cure’ will not take away all these toxins burdening our bodies ...“

Now, this is the part of my talk in which I was going to list a series of facts about the nuclear industry, such as:

·Radiation is a carcinogen, meaning that it damages DNA

·Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, and is a waste product in the nuclear industry

·Canada’s allowable (1) levels for tritium (2)are quite a bit higher than other countries: 7,000 bq/l, compared to 100 bq/l in the EU, and 740 bq/l in the USA.

However, all of those statistics you already know. You have your own panel of (dispassionate – according to me) ‘engineering experts’, and you have been hearing from the (‘passionate’) public for the past week and a half, who are individuals like myself, and non-governmental organizations who just want you all to see where all of this horrible experiment has gone wrong. It doesn’t matter how many allowable ‘bequerels’ or ‘milliseverts’ of this or that are in our water, or air, or soil. What matters is that we just stop putting it there. There is no safe, allowable level of radiation. Period.

We have been contaminating our Mother Earth with this cancerous element ever since ‘engineers’ and physicists learned how to split the atom. And what was it the ‘experts’ said at that time when they saw what they had done?

Well, to quote from Paul McKay’s book called Atomic Accomplice:

Einstein said, “The unleashed atom has changed everything, save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift towards unparalleled catastrophe.”

And Oppenheimer said, “Now I am become Death, Shatterer of Worlds.” – and his military munitions expert who wired the detonators for the Trinity bomb test said, “Now we are all sons of bitches!”

So what should I talk about instead? Well, how about: how we should move on from here? How about if our direction of discussion turns from: how much radiation are we willing to subsidize from an industry that will contaminate our family and friends with; to a life-style without such consequences? How about if we talk about renewable energy sources, and reducing our consumption of energy?

We are creative beings – we don’t have to destroy our Mother in the process. People have already come up with plans to have a 100% renewable energy grid by the year 2027 – that’s probably about the time that a brand new reactor would take to be built and be up and running, but it would be far less costly in financial cost, and in living organism cost. Who are those people? Well, one group that I know of which has well documented plans are the people from the Ontario Clean Air Alliance, another is Greenpeace, and also the Pembina Institute.

We have the technology and the creativity to combine all these different energy systems: Solar, wind, combined heat and power, our own hydro electric plus imports from Quebec.

I work at a school, an elementary school. I am a teacher’s assistant. When I sit in on a science lesson and the topic comes to their Living Things unit, the curriculum states that there are Living Things and Non Living Things – Biotic and Abiotic. And that, my friends, is the problem. In Indigenous cultures around Mother Earth, there are no “non living things”. Everything has life, has spirit. To think otherwise, allows people to disregard the very soil, air and water of our Mother, this planet Earth, and contaminate her, and everything on her, and in her, and around her. I always point this out to the students in the class. The students are our future, but we are their present … and they take direction from us and trust us to do responsible and ethical things.

Mother Earth is NOT a stable, static being. She is continually moving and reshaping herself. She thrusts, and writhes, and twists, and turns. And if I may say so, she farts, and belches, and vomits. She needs to breathe, and stretch and grow. Confining her in cement and asphalt; drilling in to her to remove her organs, and her blood, and her oils and lubricants is the death of us all. She is fighting back at our brainless and thoughtless ‘control’ that too many of us thought that we had over her. She quakes and trembles continuously, all over.

A large seismic eruption may not happen here in ten or twenty or even fifty years. It may take a hundred, two hundred, five hundred years, but this radioactive waste is here forever, and it is a ticking time bomb. Even if we stop using nuclear energy all over the world now, we still have the horrible after effects of what we have built up so far. The thousands of tons of radioactive contamination that has been stored at the 500 or so nuclear plants around the world is still going to be a problem. It wouldn’t take much for those containers to be breached by any number of Mother Earth’s bodily functions, not to mention the decay of the container itself over time.

We need to wake up and stop the nonsense. Stop funding the destruction of our planet. Stop funding the death of your family and friends.

Thank you.


(2) National Network on Environments and Women’s Health, August 2009 – Women and Water in Canada: The Gendered Health Effects of Chronic Low-Dose Exposures to Chemicals in Drinking Water: page 30 – Tritium levels down from 40,000 Bq/L in 1970’s to 7,000 Bq/L in 2000’s.

Why We Are Control Freaks (I think…)

<July 18/09>

Now, I’m not a psychological expert of any kind. I did get a B.A. in Psychology back in pre-history (1974), when, frankly, very little was acttually yet understood about the human brain.

There’s plenty I don’t know about human psychology – don’t really understand – but I am a keen & constant observer of human nature – & I read a lot, think a lot & have the occasional “Aha!” moment.

I believe there are two levels to our control freak-ism – the very, very personal & the more, shall we say, global.

I’m pretty convinced that the genesis of our tendency toward control freak-ism goes back to the time in human history, widely said by scholars to be about 10,000 years ago, when we chose to abandon the tribal lifestyle – the life of gatherers & hunters – & began to practice settled agriculture. Several books introduced this idea to me: In the Absence of the Sacred – The Failure of Technology & the Survival of the Indian Nations (Jerry Mander, Sierra Club Books, 1992); Ishmael – An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit (Daniel Quinn, Bantam/Turner, 1992) & My Name is Chellis & I’m in Recovery from Western Civilization (Chellis Glendinning, Shambhala, 1994). (I highly recommend all 3,btw.)

In doing so, we detoured away from millennia of placing our faith in the Earth/Universe to provide for us (which the Earth/Universe was so generously doing), & decided to “take control” of things. In retrospect, it now seems to a lot of us, I think, that this was a very, very problematic choice.

Abandoning the tribal lifestyle has had many unfortunate & no doubt unintended consequences (I love that phrase: unintended consequences; life is just plain full of them, hmm?), to put it rather mildly. Separating ourselves from Nature – & from each other & our tribal ways – has been nothing short of disastrous.

That’s the global piece.

So now we all have 10,000 years of a control mindset wired into us – into our brains & our genes & our culture & our guts.

Bringing it down to the more personal level, many of us on the planet grew up in families in which dysfunctionality was rampant; is it not so?

There are/were alcoholic parents, parents who abandon/ed us in one form or another, mistreat/ed us, sexually abuse/d us, visit/ed violence upon us, berate/d us constantly – & we wind up/wound up very damaged in a startling variety of ways. If our childhood was very chaotic, unpredictable & out-of-control, as adults we tend to have an intense need to control our circumstances – our emotions, our surroundings, the people around us & so on. (Even the appearance of our lawns! To the point of being willing to use poisons on them to “subdue” weeds. Sheesh!)

It’s not so surprising, is it? We want to somehow right the wrongs that were done to us, & so we become control freaks – to a greater or lesser degree. We want things to be predictable. No more out of control stuff, please, we are saying, hmm?

It’s a coping strategy, pure & simple. It doesn’t tend to work terribly well, of course, given that the very nature of life is to not be controlled or controllable. So it becomes a vicious cycle. The more we try to control everything around us, the more out-of-control things seem to become. And on & on we go, around & around, making ourselves (& the people around us) miserable, sick & maybe even crazy.

Control freak-ism is kind of a losing strategy, you might say, hmm?

It often seems to take a personal disaster of some sort to make us see that our excessive need for control is causing us more problems than it solves. (Been there!)

When life throws an unexpected curve ball our way – especially one of rather large proportions (& Life seems to positively delight in doing so!) – & life as we’ve known it is shattered, often light begins to dawn. We see the illusory nature of the control freak-ism that has so limited us, & we begin to see that a generous Earth/Universe is there to support us, quite without our having to always be the Great Big Sheriff of this, that & the other thing. We let go and, as it were, the Earth rises up to greet us.

It’s all quite magical, really.

I find all of it very, very poignant. Tragic, but so poignant. So much of human endeavour & our human frailties (& worse) can drive us right around the bend, almost – but when we come to see that underneath all the nonsense we are really quite innocent creatures – innocent, but very, very damaged & hurt; well, it helps, somehow, doesn’t it? It certainly helps bring up compassion, if nothing else.

I’ve heard that some of the major writers (being terrible with details, I can’t remember who) have pinpointed alienation as the key human problem or issue. I think they’re right. A word I would twin with it is abandonment. So many of us feel we were abandoned in one or many ways by our parents (& we were, we were) and/or by spouses/partners along the way (we were, we were) – & this comes down through the generations, & Heaven help us all, we then pass it on down to our own children, one way & another; tragically, tragically, this is so.

We’ve all felt abandoned/alienated for 10,000 years, so how could things be otherwise??

We human beings evolved to be loved & looked after & cared for by a whole tribe of people, whom we in return love, look after & care for.

How then could we feel anything other than abandoned & alienated in a world that tells us to get by on our own, more or less – or in the care of a very small number of people, some of them too damaged themselves to do anything but pass along their hurts & pain & neuroses & damage?(1)

It’s all very sad – nay, tragic – & so poignant to realize that we are all in the same darn boat. We’re all damaged – to greater & lesser degrees – & we live in a world – an industrial economy that, as Wendell Berry has said, “thrives by damage.”

Healing is always possible, however. It is human nature to change / grow / evolve. It may very well be that we have let the sickness go on too long, & our condition (as a species) is terminal – but at least as individuals, we can turn ourselves around (only if we truly want to, of course. That is a choice we make, & choice is key, key, key in human endeavour).

Now. All of this is just my opinion. None of it is scientific fact, & you can’t put any of it under a microscope or conduct a scientific experiment to prove (or disprove) it.

As Einstein once said, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted, counts.”

It seems to me like truth. Make of it what you will, hmmmm?

Janet

p.s. The essays ‘Control Freaks Anonymous’ & ‘Ditching the 2 x 4’s’ are also about the perennially important subject of control – which I see as the central issue/dilemma of human endeavour, pretty much…

p.p.s. a LOT of years later: I don’t think I even referenced patriarchy in this essay, & I think the many thousands of years of males “lording” it over females has resulted in many-many-many “unintended consequences” (to put it very mildly indeed). Then too, there are other things in life that can incline us toward control freak-ism. Sigh .. eh??

(1) Richard Rohr said, “All great spirituality is about what we do with our pain. If we do not transform our pain, we will transmit it to those around us.” This statement certainly resonates for me…