In my last post, I ended by discussing how making real change takes all kinds of citizens. I promised to share the questions I’ve been reflecting on and that will be coming soon! I’m in the process of gathering statements from people, sharing the reasons why they find importance in stopping, thinking and reflecting. I hope to continue a continuous dialogue through this blog about social justice and redefining what responsibility, change and action look like. In the meantime, I would like to shed light on an alarming issue that the world and has been reflecting on for the last 29 years.
I’m currently in Bhopal, India as I’m writing this post. If we recall, back in December 3rd of 1984, 30 tons of methyl isocyanate gas as well as other toxic chemicals escaped from the Union Carbide pesticide factory in Bhopal. Some numbers say that between 2,000-3,000 people died that same night. The exact number of how many died that night varies depending on whom you ask, but it all doesn’t matter when we find out that the dying has never really stopped since 1984.
Over the last 29 years, 25,000 more have died and almost 500,000 people suffer from exposure-related illnesses or drink severely contaminated water, poisoned by the 347 tons of hazardous waste that lie exposed on and around the site. Among those affected are men, women, young adolescents, and children born today with mental and physical disabilities from women affected by the gas leak. People are still enduring struggles and demanding justice. Bhopal is a place significant to not only the community of people affected directly who reside here, but there is a great significance to our global community as well. In efforts to raise awareness and prevent another big accident like the gas leak in Bhopal from occurring again, the phrase “No more Bhopal” was coined.
In the last 10 years, the phrase has shifted its perspective to now focus on the slow contamination that is concerning not just for the people in Bhopal, but for everyone else in this whole world. The current Hindi phrase used (Hindi is the prominent language in this region) is “We are all Bhopalis” and the English translation is “We all live in Bhopal.” The direct contamination in Bhopal knows no limits. We all live on the same Earth. The disaster in Bhopal is not an isolated event. Workers and communities are routinely poisoned all over the world. Reduction and eventual elimination of hazardous chemicals from the planet and our daily lives is the only solution to the growing number of slow and silent Bhopals in our midst. Until that happens, the safety of our health and lives depends on watchful monitoring, strict enforcement of regulations and exemplary punishment to offending agencies. Achieving justice in Bhopal should be regarded as a public health initiative with the potential to inspire significant and widespread change. It is possible to generate opportunities for hope through creative and collective intervention in a situation of despair.
In moving forward, I hope we can continue having this conversation and supporting efforts that are currently taking place to resist the envionrmental pollution impacting us all. It’s been 29 years since the Bhopal crisis – it’s time to join in solidarity with those who have been demanding justice all this time. A starting place may be thinking about how and in what ways “We all live in Bhopal.”
Love + light,