There are times when the events that occur are so momentous that they shake your life, your being, the way you feel about other people and where you either question or clarify your identity. The bush fires in Victoria are such an event. As the fires unfolded last Saturday I had a feeling of sadness and horror over the number of people that had died then. I think it was 14 at that stage. The feeling was compounded by saying to myself “but this is 2009 and we have so much experience with bush fires in Australia, how can this happen?”
As the fires intensified and spread over the weekend and earlier this week, that sadness moved to a numbness and then to a feeling of abject disbelief. Now the toll is 181 and the expectation is that it will grow, perhaps to over 300. It hurts to think about the pain suffered by those involved – and that means the victims, the victims families as well as those working to put the fires out and support the victims.
Now, almost a week has passed, and with one or two exceptions, most Australians are now in the mood of “bugger what happened, let’s just muck in and fix this as best we can first, then we can sort the other crap out later.”
This is what Australians are doing now. They are illustrating what was best described by Barack Obama in his presidential election campaign, appearing as a Can Do type with his “yes we can” slogan. Australians are illustrating this attitude well with just getting stuck in to fix the problem. Bugger the financial system meltdown, bugger the economy, bugger everything … there are a lot of people hurting and who need help so let’s just help them.
There will be many stories come from this tragedy, good and bad, noble and evil, encouraging and disheartening. One thing that is certain though, at this particular moment in my life, I have never been more proud to be an Australian than I am now.
So folks, don’t be timid either, give to those in pain. Give a little, give a lot but give what you can. Give it to the Red Cross in Australia as every cent donated there goes to the victims – no administration fees. The link is to the Red Cross Australia.