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Remembering Chernobyl - Thinking of Governments

Thirty years ago, at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in what was then still known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), one of the largest nuclear crises known in human history occurred. I can still remember hearing on the news about it. But in this generation, many only know of Chernobyl as a site in a Transformers movie, or a location in a video game.

Three decades ago, April 26, 1986, a team of workers scrambled to build a concrete sarcophagus around Chernobyl Reactor 4, which released a radioactive plume after a reactor fire and explosion. At least 30 people died as an immediate result of the accident because they worked to contain the severity of the situation until they collapsed. These onsite workers, who knew they were already dead despite still standing, offered up their lives to stay and prevent something worse from happening. The accident which contaminated parts of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia – sent radioactive dust and debris over Europe and Asia.

Emergency workers and evacuees received doses of radiation significantly above safety levels, and researchers acknowledge high levels of thyroid cancer among people who were children at the time. An exclusion zone remains around the Chernobyl plant today, keeping it off limits to all but authorized workers, most of whom live in a town just outside the zone.

It took two days for the Russian government to admit they had a problem, two weeks before they would allow anyone to help from outside of their own government. American radioactivity sensors along our coasts were picking up signs of nuclear debris in the air long before Russian authorities would allow for assistance from the United States. Finally, a team of scientists were dispatched from the Idaho Nuclear Laboratories to aid in containment and repair operations.

We should not forget these events. Like all such situations which have global impact, there is always something we should never let go of as we think of it. The Russian government was doing what they always did, they were trying to cloak everything in secrecy and containment. This was, and under Putin still is, Communist Russia’s tactics in terms of international relations as a nation. Tony Judt in his book, “Post War,” talks about Russia maintaining a stance of engaging globally in an offensive military manner, unless it is strategically not feasible. This is the norm for their foreign relations. The Communist Russian government has rarely been a good neighbor.

Further, what the Russian government did is what governments do who are driven by arrogant, and self-centered leaders. We must keep this in mind, including when we look at our own national leaders who are continuously finding ways around what the nation wants, to get what they want instead. Coercion, manipulation, and social engineering are the norm for such leaders and governments. Men and women of integrity are either non-existent, or they are silenced and sidelined. Be careful who you vote for. Pray, speak out, and vote. 

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