Many people herald nuclear energy as a clean source of energy and the wave of the future. It’s hard for me to see that after everything I learned on the RAD tour. There are extreme hazards and environmental concerns from the astronomical use of water during the initial mining to the ongoing dangers of radioactive waste. And the continued nuclear armament of nations globally is really scary. We’ve seen what horrible destruction nuclear weapons cause in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the devastation of the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear meltdowns. I remember reading Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen comic about living through Hiroshima; it's hard to fully absorb the scale of the destruction caused.
It’s taken me a long time to write about this experience, which was one of the most incredible of my life, yet also one of the saddest and most heartbreaking. At the heart of the nuclear industry is the dark heart of humankind and our capacity for incredible greed, brutality and genocide. How to hold that within oneself and find some sense of hope and beauty in the world is difficult. The incredible spirit of those who organized the tour and many of the other participants made it possible to go into the depths of these issues without completely falling apart and I was amazed by their energy and dedication. I was also greatly humbled, as so many Indigenous people the world over live in pain and darkness every day as they shoulder the consequences of colonial expansion and global industrialization. Since going on the tour my entire perspective on the world and my place in it has changed.
One of the things I was left with was a strong sense of being able to make a real impact in the world. What a small group of people were able to accomplish with very little resources going up against powerful governments and corporations was truly remarkable. I often get deeply depressed and feel quite hopeless. I find strength in knowing that as more and more people begin to recognize the power that they wield, that things will start to change in really profound ways. They are changing right now all over the globe, and when I can connect to that energy thread, I can pull myself out of entropy and apathy.
The other thing I was left with was a much deeper understanding of the global Indigenous struggle for sovereignty and human rights. I think a lot of the subconscious barriers and blinders in facing that throughout my life were around not wanting to go into to the grief and shame that I carry as a European person. Not wanting to rewrite my entire life history. Not wanting to free-fall into the emptiness of my own lack of identity. And not wanting to sit with the pain that comes with opening up the suffering of those who once thrived on the lands I call home. It’s like swallowing a 20-pound brick covered in razor blades.