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A Word From the Founder – My Nuclear Reaction

The ubiquitous topic on every news station and on the minds of much of the world is the effect of Japan’s recent 9.0-magnitude earthquake and the ensuing tsunami on their nuclear power plants. There has been news of power outages causing meltdowns and explosions, which have in turn caused radiation leaks. Residents near the reactors have been advised to stay indoors or evacuate the area, and it seems unclear exactly how far-reaching the threat of poisonous radiation is.

Witnessing all this through the protective screen of my television, I cannot begin to imagine how confusing and frightening this must be for those experiencing it firsthand.

I grew up during the Cold War. The threat of a Russian-made ICBM delivering a nuclear warhead cruising towards the United States at any moment would send chills down my spine. I remember sitting in the halls of my elementary school, hunched in a ball with my head between my knees, and teachers telling us not to worry, and that this was probably just another false alarm. Probably? How did they know for sure? The reality was – none of us really knew.

We heard about the possibility of a nuclear attack almost every night on the news. Some people built bomb shelters. Some stocked up on food and water supplies. Everyone believed that it was only a matter of time before some rogue soldier sitting in a silo thousands of miles away was going to push the button and start WWIII.  It was just a matter of time.

We lived with that threat daily. What could you do? Pray and wait. Hope it never happened. I suspect that this is the same feeling the people who live around the nuclear reactors felt in Japan. Afraid of the possibility of a leak, aware of the risk, but unable to do anything but hope the threat would not become reality.

Now that reality is all too real.

Though Japan’s government and citizens are reportedly handling the situation impeccably, that doesn’t mean they aren’t facing fear and genuine concern for their country’s well-being. My thoughts and prayers go out to them – especially all of those that have been directly impacted by this crisis. I admire the brave workers who are exposing themselves to dangerous amounts of radiation in hopes of saving others; they are true heroes. I appreciate the officials and residents who are generously rationing resources and selflessly working together toward recovery.

In moments of tragedy, we have to look for the positive.  I hope, not just Japan, but the whole world comes out of this ordeal with more preparation and a stronger sense of unity. Because we all know what it is to be afraid, or to worry, and regardless of what burdens we bear or catastrophes we encounter, there is comfort in knowing that we are not alone. 

May God bless each of you and keep you safe.


3 Responses to “A Word From the Founder – My Nuclear Reaction”

  1. Lori B. says:

    Thank-you Richard. A beautiful and evocative message. Those childhood air raid drills were scary.
    Thoughts and prayers for you and yours and for us all…..

  2. Jeanne C. (kcbooklover) says:

    Richard: I work for Kansas City Kansas Community College and am a Staff Manager for a student-operated bookstore, My Shelf To Yours At KCKCC, promoting scholarship, leadership, entrepreneurship and sustainability. We receive used book donations from our local community. One of those very generous donations was an inherited book collection from Japan, over 1,500 — mostly novels, all written in Japanese. The majority are unavailable on both PBS and Amazon, so we are looking for educational institutions, individuals, and/or libraries who would like them, or, of course, an entity in Japan that may have lost precious books in the recent disaster. It would be a great thing if they went back “home”. Can you help? Thank you. Jeanne

  3. Sianeka N Hollywood, CA says:

    I am interested in anime and manga (my wishlist is almost entirely composed of these) and I’ve therefore taken an increased interest in Japanese culture and all things Japanese, and Japan is my #1 WishList destination. (Even with the events that have happened there recently.)

    I am so sorry for the unfortunate turn of events there and my heart goes out to all the people of this wonderful country. My prayers for all Japanese people who are dealing with these recent tragedies.

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