Unbearable Lightness of Living & Dying in the Heartless Mind

A middle age man got a call from her brother around nine in the morning. Their mother died from cancer at home minutes ago. His brother told him to care for their father because he will accompany his mother on her way to another world.

He was working as daily labor at a very remote area and asked his foreman for the day off to attend to the family emergency. The foreman refused to pay him NT$ 1,000 (US$ 30) because the work was not completed. He had very little money in his pocket and walked seven hours to the nearest train station. It was six in the evening when he finally got home. The police moved the bodies to the morgue to be inspected by the prosecutor. A policeman urged the man and father to go there right away but they had no money. He stuffed a one thousand dollar bill in the son’s hand.

After waiting in a line of fifty at the library’s website for borrowing a book by the Russian journalist named Nobel laureate for literature this year, I finished reading it in no time. Svetlana Alexievich’s “Voices from Chernobyl”was a translation of heartbreaking stories told in the voice of first person, the stigmatized and disdained victims of the  disaster. Though I had watched many documentaries and news on TV about nuclear disasters, this was the first time I really looked nuclear disasters in the eye as if I were living it.

Voices from Chenobyl

It’s not the horrible process of dying that I cannot bear even after all these years of studying and experiencing death and dying, it’s how the leaders and people who covered up the unforgivable mismanagement of the plant and even sent people onsite to clean up unprotected without informing them of the consequences that shattered me. The victims honestly doing their jobs were doomed along with the families for generations to come. Lives weighed so light by the authorities who needed to cover up to protect their own names, merits, selves and interests as savvy crisis management.

If people of the same root were weighed so lightly, what more can migrants or refugees expect? History repeats itself. Even in Japan that had experienced Hiroshima bomb, authorities still tried to cover up the nuclear disaster when it first emerged a few years ago.

What is the real problem? Economic development, technology or human nature?