I Am Australian and the Bushfires Really Are Devastating
You might feel that no good can come from a humanitarian crisis, like the one us Aussies are facing. There is some good, though.
Right now, Australia is on fire. I live in the city so technically my home is fine, although about one hour from me, homes are burning. Humans are burning too. Even Aussie icons like Koala’s and Kangaroos are burning.
It would be easy to ignore what is happening and think, “Not my problem mate!”.
Yesterday at the local gym in Hawthorn, the bushfires were displayed on every TV channel. The gym was literally surrounded by pictures of burning flames and felt like it was on fire as people lifted their dumbbells in shock.
Then on Twitter, #AustraliaFires and #AustraliaBurns were trending while Greta Thunberg was adding further fuel to the political fire that was raging in a blaze of glory on the internet.
LinkedIn then featured the Australian Bushfires as the top trending story users were talking about.
We are supposed to be enjoying the New Year as Australians, but with Australia burning from bushfires, something about celebrating the new year and the tradition of watching fireworks felt a little off. People even protested to stop the Sydney Fireworks as a sign of respect.
This video posted on Twitter shows just how graphic bushfires can be, in case, like me, you haven’t seen one up close before.
Bushfires have begun to take on a different meaning for me recently. My brother started out a few years ago as a volunteer emergency worker during times of crisis. This means if you wash up dead in a lake or decide to hang yourself in the forest where it takes days to find you, there’s a good chance he’ll meet you and say g’ day. His team are involved voluntarily when bushfires happen and their families watch and hope they will be okay.
Then a few weeks ago, I visited my last remaining aunt who is in her 80’s. I haven’t seen her for many years and decided to drop by her home for the first time in my life. She lives by the beach and it would seem impossible that bushfires could ever come near her. It turns out they could.
In 2015, a bushfire came within meters of her home as she grabbed her walker and ran for the street with her laptop and a few clothes. Shortly after, a helicopter went over the top of her house and dropped water from a local dam. The helicopter and pilot saved both her life and her home from burning to the ground and destroying generations of memories accumulated by her potato farmer parents.
My extended family also lives in regional areas. While my apartment is safe in the city from bushfires, theirs is not. And that feels very real.
The Head of HR at my workplace is also from the country and affected by bushfires. He used to live there and now watches the forests burn from his inner-city home.
My favorite finance newsletter written by the Barefoot Investor is another constant reminder. Barefoot’s home burned to the ground during the 2014 Australian Bushfires and he lost everything. He writes about finance and teaches people to be responsible, yet the pain of bushfires always crops up in the advice he offers us millennial readers.
If you live in the major cities of Australia, you’re still affected. See the smoke from the bushfires is so bad, it has put a grey haze over the skyscrapers that stand tall in the anarchy (the skyscrapers appear as the only calm objects) and has left people coughing from the poor air quality.
Bushfires affect everybody — even Non-Australians — and the reminder is constant and all around us.
People Are Kind
You might feel that nothing good can come from bushfires or a humanitarian crisis like the one us Aussies are going through right now. This message might change your mind:
“As a visitor to Bermagui who has left this morning, I can assure you the store manager has been amazing the past 24–48 hours. The community managed to get the store open for business yesterday morning despite fire emergency in place and local services were first in to get stock to distribute to the evacuation area — FREE.”
“They also provided food and water etc to the evac centre,” she shared.
“The shelves have been restocked overnight by the manager and volunteers ready to open today, he’s been on the go since 6am yesterday.”
— Casey Barton via Facebook
What’s remarkable is that the other supermarkets were closed, yet one store manager decided to ignore the corporate giant he worked for, disobey instructions, and keep the store open.
Watching people devastated by natural disaster (or is it?) go through tough challenges lights up the human spirit and gives rise to the everyday heroes that we all have the power to become through one tiny decision.
The devastating bushfires happening in Australia right now are doing some good. They are showing the stunning beauty of the human spirit inside every one of us, and they are putting the climate change debate in the spotlight for all of us to consider — whether you agree with it or not.
To me, it certainly is starting to look like Al Gore and the climate change movement were right. My only hope is that Australia doesn’t have to burn to the ground while we work it out.
Bushfires affect everybody.
If your home is burning, then our home is burning. Much love to everybody affected in the Australian bushfires and the firefighters battling the crisis.