"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

Mar 13, 2011

How Stuff Works, Again

Who puts themselves into the breach to save the lives of thousands, tens of thousands and millions?

It isn't these folks:


They get paid very good money to order the deaths of thousands, to facilitate war and conquest. And I don't need to tell you that.

It's not them.

So, who does it?

On a day to day basis, you and me. Us. Not just because most of us don't ever want to start wars and kill other people's children, mothers and fathers. Because we labor and play despite the misdeeds of the wealthy, and the very wealthy. Because we live the lives we live, however desperate, however compromised.

When it gets bad, we help our neighbors. They - those fucks pictured above, and the people like them - look for ways to profit.

In a crisis, the real deal catastrophe? Those bastards look for the loot.

It isn't the people pictured above, or anyone like them, who does what needs to be done. They pay themselves to be important and live very rich lives off the labor of others.

In a catastrophe, who runs into the fire? Not Barack Obama.

It's people like Victor Burkin who do the right thing:

"...Fourteen minutes earlier, at 1.26am on April 26, 1986...Reactor 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear plant had exploded, releasing 100 times the radiation of the atomic bomb that had exploded over Hiroshima.

'There was only the light from the fire — black and red flames and lumps of molten material everywhere,' Mr Birkun said. 

'The reactor’s roof had blown off, throwing asphalt, concrete and graphite upwards and outwards. Where the graphite landed it turned everything to lava.'

As the plant managers and technicians fled or frantically tried to contact Moscow, the firefighters rushed straight into the inferno. With only a cotton uniform to protect him, Mr Birkun drove his fire truck over the reactor’s metal roof, now lying on the ground, and up to 15m (50ft) from Reactor 4. 

Using his bare hands he lowered the engine’s siphon into the nearest cooling pool to suck up water for his colleagues as they battled 300 fires around the complex. Within seconds he began to feel the effects of the gamma rays that were bombarding his internal organs. 

He started vomiting about every 30 seconds. He grew dizzy and weak. After two hours he could not stand. 

Doctors later gave him a certificate indicating that he had received 260 ber (biological equivalents of roentgen), equivalent to 1,000 years of background radiation. 

But experts estimate that the radiation that he absorbed was even higher, and enough to cause acute radiation sickness (ARS). 

'I’m amazed he survived,' Michael Repacholi, the top radiation expert at the World Health Organisation, said. 

'It was a hugely heroic effort, and I suspect anyone who understood how much radiation was there would never have gone in.'

Twenty years on Mr Birkun knows he is lucky to be alive and living in Moscow with his wife, Nadezhda, and his daughters, Lyudmila and Valentina. 

Of the 134 'liquidators' with a diagnosis of ARS, 28 died in 1986, including at least six firefighters. Mr Birkun, now 56, is proud of the sacrifice that his team made to reduce the cloud of smoke that spread radioactive particles across Europe and even as far as Japan.

'These were the people who saved Europe,' he said, fingering a black-and-white photograph of his former colleagues. 'If they had not done what they did, the fire would have spread to Reactors 1, 2 and 3.'...” 

It's the still anonymous technicians and plant employees at Daiichi nuclear power plant, located in the Fukushima prefecture, Japan - struggling against the stuff of the cosmos itself, exposed to radiation which will sicken and may very kill them, struggling to literally stave off an often incomprehensible horror.

If you can spare a moment, try to imagine Barack fucking Obama running into that breach.

Try to imagine the warmongers, the arms peddlers, the princes of distribution and entertainment, the petty despots of a thousand boardrooms and executive suites doing that, doing what needs to be done.

If you cannot imagine it, if the images or the words and sounds do not come to mind, perhaps you know what side of the bread your butter's on.

Remember that, the next time one of those bastards tells us that we need to tighten our belts, offer up our sacrifices, take a cut to our incomes, put our households on an austerity regime, or send our children off to murder the daughters and sons of people we will never meet.

Remember it, the next time one of those fucking fucks wants you to cast a vote, or worry about the other party, or buy some "revolutionary" product, or tune in on a Sunday to watch a rapist throw a ball to a wife beater at a thousand dollars a minute.

Remember that it's someone punching a clock who is struggling to save her neighbors, and strangers, from disaster. It's an overworked nurse or teacher. It's a guy who fucking cleans bathrooms on the night shift and empties trash on the overnight, so his kids don't go hungry, so his mother can get her medicine.

It's my wife, who spends her whole day making sure that women who cannot afford gynecological and obstetrical care can still get appointments, who keeps the schedules open and the office working, who works with dozens of other women to keep a charity practice afloat, with too little staff and too many patients, while the bigwigs pay themselves in six figures and public announcements.

It's your kin. It's you. It's people like us, whom we have never met.

It's somebody's sister, or brother, or mother, son, father, friend or neighbor, working against the clock to prevent nuclear disaster. It's a Ukrainian fireman and his brethren, killing themselves to save the whole of Europe.

That's how shit actually works.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful and well said. Thank you.

Charles F. Oxtrot said...

Yes indeed.

K. Ron Silkwood said...

As I am a being of a peculiar neurotic bent, this piece has my emotions bouncing between murderous rage and profound sadness.

drip said...

KRS and I may share a neurosis. Part of mecheers the working stiffs who do the work. But part of me knows that Obama, like Birkun, is just doing his job. Rage and sadness. But at least you found a positive angle on this story. It is a great way to make a powerful point: I'm the one who can't seem to keep it positive.

rob payne said...

A great read Mr. Crow, really nice.

Jack Crow said...

Want to offer longer responses to the kind and insightful replies in this and the last post, but it looks like I'm going to be busy for a few days.

Hope to get back sooner.

Jack Crow said...

drip, k ron -

There's no need to be positive. The neurosis really isn't one. You have fewer blinders, and that's a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Richard, I've finally found your blog, learned a little more about you, learned Oxtrot's first name, got a better sense of where you're coming from, intellectually and personally. Until we disagree again, good work!

Senecal

Jack Crow said...

Thank you, Sen.