Harvey, Irma, Western Wildfires, Deplorable Leadership… Can We Change After Disaster, After Disaster, After Disaster?

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People I do know, and people I don’t know at this very moment I am writing are experiencing the loss of almost everything they hold dear and facing a future so uncertain they can’t plan much more than the next drink of water and bite to eat. Those bare essentials are elusive for hundreds of thousands, millions even.

This changes everything

I’m writing this article from the comfort of my 5-star luxury motor home and safely berthed in the first camp-host spot on the ‘A’ loop of the Deschutes Campground, Cove Palisades State Park, Oregon. Though not retired, my life partner, Winston, is like most ‘full-timers’ (retired), beginning to get a bit bored with too much time on his hands. We get to enjoy our public lands and the people who love them as recreationists and compassionate, yet grossly under-resourced, Park  Rangers and government employees.

We have no internet connectivity here. Our iPhones don’t work. Verizon has overlooked this spectacular and even remote watery paradise in otherwise bone-dry Central Oregon. We drive a few miles to the marina on Lake Billy Chinook to access their free WiFi. We drive there often because we are deeply and personally obligated to following the disastrous events plaguing our planet and its people. We sit on the deck devouring the news, hoping for some small bit of good news, while our lungs labor to get enough oxygen from air thick with smoke and ash from the Milli fire near Sisters and the Eagle Creek complex currently devastating the Columbia Gorge area. The latter started by a 15-year-old who laughed with his friends as the inferno broke loose from a smoke bomb he threw into the canyon. There is no good news.

Harvey, Irma, Western Wildfires, Deplorable Leadership... Can We Change After Disaster, After Disaster, After Disaster?Harvey, Irma, (Jose, Katia), unprecedented wildfires, earthquake clusters in Idaho, all too close to the super-volcano caldera of Yellowstone, no leaders are rising up as clearly capable at the helm of our government, nuclear missile threats from a ‘leader’ who is at best unstable, probably a sociopath. Our citizens and those of other nations in the paths of natural and man-made destruction doubt that governments, are capable of responding to disasters effectively on our own shores and globally. In addition, the overly abundant hate speech, elitist, anti-middle class zealots in need of doctrines and dogma coming daily from the White House and U.S. Capitol, only seem to sew more divisiveness and negativity.

Even though our home is on wheels, we’re actually not safe either. Yesterday afternoon a spectacular thunderstorm came through, but we were lucky yesterday. While rife with lightning, the clouds threw down a deluge of cold rain, a full inch. We dodged huge wildfire potential right here. Or we thought we did. This morning, one of the campers on our loop suffered a stroke. It took the ambulance a little over an hour to get here (the hospital is only 13 miles away), because that very lightening storm had started quite a few small fires in the area that had to be eliminated as swiftly as possible–even paramedics were fighting fires in order to save countless lives and properties instead of just one.

These disasters and near disasters demand that we bring out the best part of our humanity: our compassion for others. As individuals and people in business, we have to take care of others. Help them recover from their losses–our losses–anyway we can. But I fear we need to change. Change not our humanity, that’s the best part of us, but what we hold dear. Lives are not about possessions, social status, bank accounts, skin color, sexual orientation. Lives just are, and we have no one to count on, but ourselves and the people around us.

Wait; there is some good news: individuals of means, companies, and organizations are casting aside their business-as-usual and profit models to extend disaster relief in every way possible. High-profile people are using the power of crowdfunding  to raise more for disaster relief within hours than the entire Trump empire would consider “donating” to the disaster victims. People who have no connection to anyone but their neighbors are using every resource they have to feed, clothe, and house as many as they can. Executives and staff teams are initiating rescue and recovery efforts that boggle the mind and wring tears from our hearts. And they are doing this on their own time.

Can we change? Have we changed?

From where I sit, safe today until the anticipated evening thunderstorm rolls through in a couple hours, I respond, yes we can!  If, and only if, we all stop measuring our individual worth by what we own, and measure it by how we care. Disaster–natural or manmade–doesn’t care if you live in a tent or a luxury RV, a tenement or a tower. Disaster will take that from us, equally.

But, disaster cannot take away our humanity.

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