The week before the fires Gaye and I spent time in a mudbrick house on the hills over looking the Brogo River near Bega. This idyllic spot was full of trees, bush animals and silence and one could struggle to understand how something so beautiful could, as we have seen in Victoria, turn so violent. While we were there bushfires were a few kilometres the other side of Bega (no threat) and we were ready to leave at the first sign of danger in our area. The house was insured and could be rebuilt and what possessions we had with us were readied to leave. I learnt long ago that fighting fires in that environment simply is a game of chance with the dice loaded against you. With the first sign of danger we were to be out of there.
This last week has been a terible week for Victoria and for the whole of Australia. through the intrusive nature of television we have been bombarded with images and stories of the most tragic and dramatic nature hourly, the language in which each story is couched gets more dramatic and inflmmatory as the channels seek to impart the horror which defies all their efforts.
Looking on we wonder, how did this happen, how did people die when they had followed the directions of the experts promising salvation from the demon fire? When you do all that you are told to do to keep yourself and your loved ones safe and it fails you, the devestation is as great as the loss of property. It is the sense of betrayal by those whom are supposed to have the answers which drives our anger, an anger we turn out on those supposed to have lit the fires. (See this opinion piece for more information, http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/people-died-doing-exactly-what-they-were-told-to-do-20090210-83nz.html)
The truth about life is that bad things happen to good people, that stuff hppens which we can not control and that, in many ways, safety and security are myths which we have elevated to the level of truths. They do not exist as absolutes and no amount of planning and theorising whether based on learning or experience makes us immune to the vagaries of life.
It is also true in this age of experts, doctoral studies and research papers that we have given away our ability to think and to act based on our own common sense and intuition. We only trust that which comes from the mouths of those deemed as expert and we put faith in them which is often more than they deserve. Everything for child rearing, financial planning (Global Financicial Crisis), raising kids, getting married etc is learnt from outside ourselves. No longer do we trust what we know, have experienced and feel. Intuition saves lives but we are not attuned to that part of ourselves.
Alongside this is our trust in technology. Never have we had so much technology available to us to deal with disaster yet it fails us badly. We can’t go for a drive without a technical voice describing the road ahead through a computer navigator. In the area of fire fighting, the arsenal we bring against the fire is large and powerful, yet it fails us in the face of wind, wind changes and the fury of the fire itself.
Here is where we are grieiving. The religion of the modern, educated technological world has been tested and found wanting. In the space of a few months the free market world we trusted and the safety of life in the idyllic Australian landscape has shattered the doctrines of safety, security and happiness in a way only a world war could.
We do we go from here? Perhaps the starting point is to accept our place in this wondeful world and to accept that,despite all our efforts to the contrary, it is as wild and untameable as it is beuautiful and wonderful. That in our reimaging the world from today forth we rediscover our innate relationship with, our innate understanding of, this world and the one who created it so that we begin to live in unity with it instead of trying to control it. Then we may find the ability to take back our lives from those whom we have given it to and begin to discover our relationship with all things, to discover that we can live in harmony and with joy. this does not mean there will be no tragedies, disasters or sadness, simply an understanding of the meaning of it all found in the Creator who say that all he created was good.