I live in wildfire country. And yesterday I stopped by the Farmers Market across from the post office to buy some greens and carrots. I asked the young man how his summer was going so far. I was thinking, “Were people coming as they had done in the past?” And “How are sales?” Small talk.
He said, “It’s been okay so far, but my farm is less than a mile from the fire.”
At that moment I realized that I had only been inconvenienced by the heat and the smoke because I live in an attic apartment that’s always hot as blazes in the summer — and this year it seems that summer came too early with 90 degrees yesterday — and the fact that doing my daily walk and other outside activities had diminished because I cannot tolerate the thick smoke even on the side far away from the fire, but none of that mattered because this man could easily lose his life’s work!
And this morning I wondered how we can dismiss the very personal impact of natural disasters like our wildfires. How can we go on about our business when others are suffering?
Sure, we get teary when we see that cute puppy being rescued by a team of guys forming a hand-chain as they brave the crushing waters of the flood. And we inhale sharply when we see a village demolished by an earthquake…
And some of us even donate time and/or money to such causes.
Surely, this area has had wildfires forever. At least it has in the 40 years I’ve lived here.
But I have also lived in an area where tornadoes threatened the ranch and on the coast where hurricanes tossed cows into the electrical wires overhead along the highway. And I’ve been following the volcanoes on Facebook because I have friends in Hawaii.
But, surely, these events are not new.
I was a child when we were evacuated because the hurricane was going to wipe out my hometown and we had to rent a motel room in a town far away. And we had emergency drills where we practiced going in single file into the hallways to sit on the floor away from windows. That was more than fifty years ago.
Have we become inured to natural disasters?
Yesterday I posted on Facebook, “I have lived with wildfires, hurricanes, and tornadoes and am thinking about moving to try something different.” And my friends responded with “Volcanoes!” and “Volcano goddess!” And this morning I added, “I’m thinking tidal waves — possibly moving back to Vancouver Island.”
Is this thinly veiled banter just a self-defense mechanism for highly sensitive people who cannot bear much more grief of any kind?
Have we become calloused to the dangers around us?
Is our attitude created by the titillation of media that capitalizes on shock-value?
Or have we simply accepted the fact that no matter where we live, there will be challenges?
what’s your take?
What’s your attitude about natural disasters? What does that say about you?