Polonium Pandemonium

A few months ago Time magazine ran an article entitled The Spy Who Knew Too Much. It had to do with suspicions surrounding the death of the Russian dissident, Alexander Litvinenko. Doctors suspected that some kind of radioactive agent was causing his illness. Unexplainable things were happening: his body was disintegrating, his hair was falling out, and his bone marrow was failing. Under medical evaluation, gamma spectrometers picked up nothing unusual in his blood system.

However, atomic experts discovered alpha particles, which after entering the bloodstream will destroy everything that they touch. They isolated the alpha particles and found them to come from the rare isotope polonium 210. A nuclear reactor was required to make polonium, and some ingenuity was needed to turn it into a magic capsule that would induce slow death.

Alexander Litvinenko had been poisoned. Just one microgram (one-millionth of a gram) is enough to kill most people. A microgram weighs less than a grain of salt and is more difficult to spot than a period at the end of a paragraph. Once ingested, it leaves an unmistakable dye that can be traced. Put into a drink it produces vapors that can be inhaled by those around.

I have been hearing for years from the experts of our society that a little bit of pornography cannot hurt you: it might even help. A fling on the wild side of marriage may be a good thing and could create a healthy spark to a deteriorating sex life. A few swear words, mixed into television conversation, never hurt anybody: that’s life. A puff of marijuana never killed anybody: let’s legalize it.

Forgive me please if I gag! I am tired of this baloney. I am sick of seeing our children used as guinea pigs as society experiments with theories. I am fed up with the deteriorating health of Canadian people, marriages and families. Just as ingesting a small amount of polonium culminated in the death of Alexander Litvinenko, so accepting a little bit of immorality here and there is increasing the mortality rate of our nation.

I have been a pastor for many years. I have ministered to men who are addicted to Internet porn. I have visited them in prisons as they tried to kick the habit that caused them to molest a child. I have wept with couples who were now dealing with the pain of the discovery of hidden sexual sins. I have counseled children who can hardly speak English but have adopted trash talk as the core of their vocabulary. I have worked with the heroin addict whose journey into drugs started with one joint.

For years I have had to deal with the experts who say that there is little to no connection between heroin and marijuana, pornography and incest, adultery and divorce. Say what? Who is coming up with these stats? Ask your neighbour what he or she thinks? Common sense tells us otherwise.

Many Canadians I speak with are disturbed by the loss of civility in our nation. In Charlottetown, a high school principal took a stand against the “casual profanity” of his students and was hailed as a hero by parents and educators alike. Researchers have found that one in eight people will leave their jobs as a result of incivility: ie. desk rage, verbal abuse, rudeness, profanity.

Yet, we have defenders saying we should not stifle what is a natural cathartic outlet for frustration. It’s better to be sworn at than hit, they say. That sounds good. Let’s follow that logic a little further: is it better to be hit than knifed? Is it better to be knifed than shot? Is there anyone home out there? None of it should be acceptable: swearing, hitting, knifing, or shooting.

I know that we are supposed to be a tolerant people, but tolerance has its levels. Just a little more tolerance of a poison can kill you, as Litvinenko found out. There are some things eating at the healthy DNA of our nation. How long do we play as a people with poison? How long can we allow people to change the labels on the bottles of poison?

What will it take before we recognize that things have gone too far? Who is willing to take a stand against the degrading, deteriorating toxins infiltrating the DNA of our social system? Is it possible that the tide is beginning to turn?

It has been said that evil prospers when good men say nothing. Are there any good men out there? Is there anyone who sees the danger when we as individuals and as a culture imbibe just a little bit of immorality?


Castanet Article
Thursday June 7th, 2007
Oh! Canada! Column