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Holistic Environment: LETTING OFF STEAM


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French Youth on Mururoa

Here in the South of France I was shocked to see the following slogan on someone's T-shirt: 'Si Hiroshima vous a fait rire, attendez voir Mururoa.' (If Hiroshima made you laugh, wait till you see Mururoa.) It made me think of how my French friends reacted to nuclear testing. In general, they didn't. But they are ashamed of what the man they chose to govern their country has decided to do. They believe in Jacques Chirac and hope he will bring better times to a country with increasing unemployment, racism and now terrorism. However, they now realise that in the face of world opinion, he is too stubborn to change his own. As a Dutch person living in France I am especially disappointed in the youth. Rather than demonstrating, they prefer to point the finger elsewhere; 'Look at what China is doing!' The issue will blow over, they hope, and the world will focus elsewhere. I am surprised at their indifference because, in the main, they have an extremely positive and engaging attitude towards the world and its well-being.

Marloes Deelen (The Netherlands)
in Montpellier, France

Recently the world has seen France's nouveau president drop a hot potato with his decision to resume the country's atomic testing program. In obstinate Napoleonic fashion he has refused to reverse a decision that is pointedly out of step with world opinion. So what do the French people think? Despite the widespread protests there is a distinct rien à foutre attitude at large. Some say, 'Why all this fuss about a couple of harmless tests when there's carnage in Bosnia?' Some feel the government is setting a precedent for other nuclear powers to restart or extend their own atomic testing programs, thus leading to a small scale arms race. Meanwhile others fear the consequences of the inevitable boycott of French goods and services. Call it blithe optimism or sheer arrogance but the French believe they have not betrayed Europe or indeed, the rest of the world. There is even the notion that such a nuclear deterrent is vital to the stability of Europe. Cross any French border, however, and you will find the French shrug of the shoulders replaced by the European headshake.

James Trevelyan (UK)
in Angers, France

Ever since Chirac announced the resumption of nuclear tests in the Pacific, the French people have protested. They are not as passive as others suggest. They are as hostile as those in the Pacific nations. However, here in Australia, one of the most vocal countries condemning the tests, we do not hear about the numerous protests all over France. As a French citizen, I am against nuclear testing and am willing to protest against my government's decision. But let's get it right! If I commit myself to protesting, it will be to stop nuclear proliferation in all countries - not just France. I also think it is very narrow-minded of protesters to vandalise buildings that have either a French name or French goods. Many of these owners have Australian citizenship and have nothing to do with political decisions in France. People should have more common sense. We need to distinguish between government policy and society. National culture and opinion have reduced influence on political decisions once a politician has been elected.

Florence Mélinand (France)
in Melbourne, Australia

Last update: 2000-02-12 17:20:20 (EEST).
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