2011.05.12  天地返し(てんちがえし)

 むかし、といってもどれくらいの昔かわかりません。
 農村では「天地返し」という大掛かりな作業が行われていたという。
 江戸時代でしょうか、もっと以前からでしょうか。
 疲弊した田や畑を、生き返らせる唯一の農法だったらしいのです。

 天地を返す、とはどういうことか?
 長い間農作業をつづけていると、肥えた土もやがて痩せて豊作はおぼつかない。まして質のよい作物はできなくなっていきます。そこで、ある農民の知恵者が考えたのが「天地返し」。表面の土=天と、深いところの土=地を、ひっくり返すというのです。3尺返す、というから約1メートルもの深さの土を表面に移し、表土をいちばん下に埋める。農民は手と鍬の力、まったくの自力で田畑の土を上下させ、まぜていた。想像を絶する重労働、時間もかかる。しかし、ほかに農地蘇生の方法はなかったのです。

 いま福島県飯館村など放射線汚染地区では、小・中学校の校庭の表土を50センチほどけずり取る作業が行われています。テストでは、汚染された表土を50cm取り除くと、その下の土の放射線量は十分の一に減るという。しかし、なんと空しく、ばかばかしい作業でしょう。金も、時間もかかり、不安は残る。まったく無駄で、空虚な労働。が、それ以外に子どもたちを運動場に出すことができません。
もちろん、東電原発事故の放射能に「汚染された土」を始末するためです。この原因をつくったのは東電。飯館村が憤りに燃えるのは当然です。日本国民は、この事実を忘れてはならないでしょう。

 表土を削るショベルカーの影像を見ながら、ぼくは「天地返し」という言葉を思い出したのでした。当時の農民はどれほど大変な苦労をして「天地返し」を行ってきただろう。しかし、そこには放射能の恐れも不安も憤りもなかった。
天地返しが済めば、また何年間かは豊作が期待できた。つまり、希望のある作業だった。であればこそ、農民は苦労に耐えて作業に励んだはずです。

 削りとった厚さ50センチの表土には放射性物質が含まれています。天地返しのように1メートルの深さに埋めても、なお何十年ものあいだ地域の人びとを苦しめ続けるでしょう。それに対する償いは、だれが、いつまですべきなのか、それも忘れずに記憶しておきたい。

 悪い原因をつくらない社会をつくること。それが「進歩」のはず、「知恵」のはず。原発は最悪の原因をつくる悪しき文明であることが明白になりました。全面的に廃止すべきだと思います。

 いま、気づきます。
 「天地返し」が本当に必要なのは、文明に麻痺し良識と知恵が衰えてしまった21世紀文明、そしてわれわれ現代人なのではないでしょうか。価値観の「天地返し」が求められていると思います。(A)

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