Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Seeing Things Clearly Through The Smoke

Summer is here and along with it fire season.  Living in the West you soon get used to it as an annual occurrence.  A devastating one at that.

Not only does it destroy millions of acres of forest and grass lands,  it displaces wildlife and destroys homes.  Peoples entire lives can go up in smoke in a matter of minutes.

This summer we've one right up the road.  Maybe 10 miles from where we live.  It's roaring up a steep mountainside just north of the tiny community of Bayview on  the east side of Lake Pend Oreille.

The air is thick with smoke.  Even here my eyes sting and my throat is scratchy.  Nothing, I'm sure, compared to what exists closer in.

What strikes me, as it always does, is the spirit of the people who are directly involved.  I wrote just a few days ago about how this area has heart.  Well, it sure does now.  And not just here but all across the region where wild fires are raging.

Neighbors help neighbors over and above what shelters provide.  They help clear homes, take care of live stock and pets, offer helping hands where ever needed.  The news is filled with people shaking their heads over the generosity of others.  It's that sense of community.  Communities with heart.

So what happens when the fire is over and people are left to put their lives back together?  Much the same.  People helping people.  It doesn't stop because the fire is out.  They rebuild and make things better.

It's something lost on our political class.  I'd like to see every last one of them don the yellow shirts of the fire fighters and join the lines.  Find out first hand what hard work really is.  What hard work really is when it's being done for someone other than themselves. Experience first hand that sense of community and even bask in the glow of appreciation that comes from those communities even if nearly everything is lost.  They've appreciated the effort.  And that's why you were on the line.  To work.  For them. Not yourself.

Maybe lighting a fire under the politicians is the wrong tactic.  Maybe we should just make them fight a real one where their life is at stake - all for others.  Then maybe they'd begin to understand what this country is about.

I won't, however, hold my breath.  Right now it's difficult enough to breathe.  It would be a breath of fresh air though, wouldn't it?

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