(In case it isn’t obvious, this is not about cancer. Nor is it about nuclear power. It was prompted by some of the comments to articles about the NSA’s gross violations of privacy in the name of “fighting terror.”)
Responding to a new study showing a sharp spike in cases of cancer, citizens across the country said, “So what? Cancer’s been around forever. Get used to it!” Another frequent response was “There’s nothing we can do about it anyway.” It was unclear why people who think there’s nothing new under the sun – and even if there is, we’re powerless to change it – would spend their free time reading and commenting on blogs about health issues.
In contrast to the “nothing new” reaction, another common thread was “The world has changed. We have to adapt – to more cancer.”
Some were outraged about the risks to the lives of their families, but others insisted that the complaining must stop: “I saw you eating french fries, so you have no right to complain if you get cancer.” This was despite the study’s finding linking the rise in cancer rates to nuclear accidents.
Consumers acknowledged the role of industrial pollutants in causing the dramatic increase, but said this was just one of those trade-offs we have to make: “What’s a little leukemia in exchange for air conditioning and flat-screen TVs?” Others wrung their hands about difficult choices and quoted their leader as saying: “You can’t have 100% power generation and still have 100% health,” apparently in full agreement with his decision to opt for a 100% / 0% split.
“It’s not like they’re coming to your house and injecting your children with plutonium. This is a limited program of accelerated nuclear plant approvals” was the view of one man on the street. (Under the plan, 95% of Americans will soon be within 20 miles of a hastily-built reactor.)
The leader’s many defenders assert that no one had any problem with malignant tumors until his policies started to cause them. It is unknown if supporters recall cheering as he himself railed as a candidate against the pro-cancer stand of his predecessor.
Few citizens chose to remark on the fact that nuclear accidents themselves lead to power outages. Fewer still wondered if there might be ways to obtain electricity that do not lead to suffering on a massive scale.
On a serious note, it’s quite true that we are nearly powerless as individuals to influence government policy. That’s why it is so important to join together with like-minded others. It’s time to join the ACLU.