The Chernobyl Legacy

The Chernobyl Legacy

Just in case I may have forgotten about such suffering that makes my own situation look irrelevant, I can always turn to this amazing multimedia photo presentation called The Chernobyl Legacy.

“For our sake He made Him to be sin who did not know sin.” (2 Cor 5:21) What sin He was made to bear. What sin He was made to become.

The photographer, Paul Fusco, has documented the aftermath of the 1986 Chernobyl incident, including the most poignant victims of all, the children who have been born since and who suffer in the most ghastly ways. I couldn’t help but be filled with pathos and heartbreak at watching the poor children suffer unimaginable ailments and conditions.

While accidents can happen anywhere, it was the uniquely Soviet view of human beings as mere property of the state that left so many of them to be exposed to the radiation and even to continue living in those conditions.

One woman says:

I’m afraid to stay on this land. They’ve given me a dosimeter, but what am I supposed to do with it? I do my laundry, it’s nice and white, but the dosimeter goes off. I make (some) food, bake a pie—it goes off. I make the bed—it goes off. What do I need it for? I feed my kids and cry. “Why are you crying, Mom?”

The government gives her a dosimeter, but it doesn’t solve the problem. All the dosimeter tells her is that she and her family are being exposed to deadly radiation, yet this is the bureaucracy’s idea of a solution. In 2000 the Russian parliament halved the maximum benefits available to survivors of Chernobyl. And they are forgotten.

Several years ago my parish participated in the Chernobyl Children’s Project, which brings Ukrainian and Belarusian children to the US for several weeks to live with host families and receive treatment in US hospitals.

It was so poignant to meet these kids, knowing the deadly cancers they carried within them. I wonder if any of them are still alive today. I watched the Chernobyl Legacy presentation and my heart quailed at the enormity of the evil done, similar to how I reacted when I watched the movies Schindler’s List and The Passion of the Christ. In both movies I saw in the cross and Christ’s sacrifice the enormous sin and suffering that were piled upon Christ. “For our sake He made Him to be sin who did not know sin.” (2 Cor 5:21) What sin He was made to bear. What sin He was made to become.

  • I had no idea, really, what the fallout was like. This was, at the same time, so sad and so beautiful. The victims portrayed were beautiful.
    Thank you for the post. I will try not to forget…

  • That was the most horrific thing I have ever seen. The only thing that prevents it from being a literal hell is the compassion of the nurses.
    And some of the children aren’t even able to experience it.
    How can we not be grateful for the beauty of our privalged lives? Why don’t we tremble in fear at the notion of owing much for that which is given.