Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Conversation with Absinthia, Part 4

(map from "Radiation from Chernobyl," (2007). In UNEP/GRID-Arendal Maps and Graphics Library.)

This is part of a continuing series of email letters exchanged with my Swedish friend, Absinthia. To see the whole series, start with Do the Right Thing.


I saw posters today about a memorial, it is now 25 years since the Chernobyl acid rain. That poster and this conversation with you has activated a lot of memories I had totally forgotten, or maybe repressed, who knows really?

I remember now that for many years after Chernobyl, the news was full of information about how the native sami reindeer keepers had to slaughter their reindeer because of the acute radioactivity levels in the reindeer meat. They were unable to sell the meat and had to destroy it by digging it down in special pits. I thought so much about that. Their prime source of money is to sell the reindeer meat. Without that, where on earth would they get the money for everyday life? If they could not sell the meat, they would not get any money to buy any food, so... maybe they had to choose between starvation or eating that meat themsleves!? If the meat was too radioactive to eat, what happened when it was dug down, with the earth and the animals in the earth? I have no idea how many years that handling with the reindeer meat went on, maybe it still is going on.

I remember that for some years after the acid rain there was information in newspapers and other media about special places where you should go and have fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, and other food items that had been hunted/harvested in our area examined about whether it had too high levels of radioactivity to be allowed as food. This scared me so much! It was for a long while that I almost got eating disorders because I was afraid of possible radioactivity in the food.

After some years you learn to live with that low murmer of fear, but it never really dies down completely, at least it hasn't for me. I have learned to live with it, but that is not the same thing as accepting it, I think.

- Absinthia

You can find more details on the Sami people and their experience with Chernobyl here:
"Effects of the Chernobyl Disaster on Sami Life," by Melanie Blackwell

Dear Absinthia,

Living in fear is not a way to live. I think most of the politicians and the corporate powers in this world don’t care if we live in fear. Maybe they use it to manipulate us.

Either way, we have to do what we can to solve the problems that give us a fearful existence, and when we have done our best, then LIVE FEARLESSLY.

Who knows what tomorrow holds? We must find a way to be happy, moment-to-moment. That comes from doing our best to make things right, and appreciating this life for all the wonderful things it gives us. Appreciation is the antidote to fear, I believe.


This conversation is continued here:
A Conversation with Absinthia, Part 5.

1 comment:

  1. Absinthia sends comments from her parents:

    I told my parents today about having this conversation with you, and they wanted me to tell you that the yearly moose hunt is still affected by Chernobyl. All the moose meat has to be examined because of the risk for radioactivity, and the same goes for all the reindeer--still, after 25 years.

    My parents are proud of me for doing this too :-)