This post is important for me to write, however indirectly related to the usual subject of this blog. I live in Colorado Springs, the scene of the Waldo Canyon fire that has engulfed our community for the past ten days. I live in the foothills in the southwest part of Colorado Springs. I am fortunate to be able to lookout over the entire area, which has always been fun when there are fireworks on the 4th of July, much scarier of late. On Saturday June 23rd, while doing usual Saturday chores, I looked out the window and saw this plume of smoke. Wow I thought, that isn’t far away and it’s big. It was 100 degrees, had been for a few days. The rest of this story has become national news headlined by the visit of President Obama to our area last Friday.
First let me say, I was not evacuated. I was not inconvenienced for a minute by any loss of power or other services. My house smelled from the smoke that has since dissipated. Since I live in the foothills surrounded by pine trees and scrub oak, this reality has always been possible; although until I saw the wall of fire that surrounded a neighborhood north of mine, I never experienced these feelings. My heart is full of compassion for those that lost their homes or have incurred damage. Honestly, I can’t imagine what it must feel like to see the place where you live your life, have family events, put your children to bed, turn into a pile of ash.
I don’t intend to focus on the tragedy-that is immediately obvious. Instead I would like to speak about the lessons of experience, of empathy, kindness and compassion. I have mixed feelings about this community honestly. There are many friendly, kind people and also, many that do not look at life as I do. Nonetheless, I believe you give back to your community. I did what small things I could do, give money, supplies, dog food and water for workers. What most impressed me was the immediate response the community had to whatever is needed. Social media and 24/7 news coverage was a boon to help in this case. I am sure it helped to save lives. Humanity must span political and philosophical differences. We are all human and can empathize with our neighbor’s troubles.
What did I learn from this experience? What can we all learn? After all, I do talk about experience being the best teacher. The lessons are yet to be concluded from everyone. Perhaps we do need more firefighters and teachers….
Teachers can help to teach the lessons of experience and of empathy to students. They can encourage students to take part in their community to make it a better place. They can teach how to “give back.” Become involved. Perhaps there is not a lesson plan for this one. The mayor of Colorado Springs said it very well at a news conference after the President toured the affected areas to give thanks and support to all the firefighters and workers. He said in effect, If every citizen just does one thing to help… Yes, he is so right. Everyone can do something. Find some clothes or household items they no longer need to donate. Go help those at the shelter walk dogs or feed other animals. Give $5 or $10 dollars-eat pasta instead of chicken one day to help others. The impact is this: you never know when that victim will be you. Let’s learn from this experience and not let it pass to go back to the same normal. It is time for a new normal. Show compassion and understanding to all.
This photo moved me. Mayor Steve Bach reaches out to shake the hand of President Barack Obama. We can build bridges through our common bond of humanity.