Things start to get pretty intense about a minute in.
Obviously near where I’m from is on the front of almost every nation’s news as we all stand by rather helplessly, watching an entire, large and modern city being burned to the ground in what is now Canada’s largest disaster. The situation is clearly awful and what these people have endured is devastating. My heart pours out to them.
I am currently making plans to free time up to allow me to donate my services to the evacuees. In the meantime, I’m going to take the advice of Mr. Rogers and I will focus on what is happening now, which is a lot of kindness and generosity. This tragedy will in many unfortunate ways expand the awareness of people in a way that will forever change them. At the very same time there can be no heroes without tragedy and this is just as important to remember.
One can view these events from a negative perspective and see all gloom and doom. Certainly we will all naturally feel in that place for periods of time when the scale of a tragedy is so huge. And yet at the same time it is not dishonest to say that the news here has literally been jammed with a massive number of beautiful stories of people showing their compassion and love for strangers. It’s like the line from the film Starman about how human beings are always at their best when circumstances are at their worst.
I am extremely proud of the citizens of Fort McMurray, the first responders and the citizens of my city, province and country. There are no religions in this tragedy. Everyone has been helped by everyone. There are no races in this tragedy. Everyone has been helped by everyone. There are no histories, no grudges, no resentments, no anger, there is only assistance shared. All labels are off. This is a human tragedy and in the heat of it everyone understands how pointless those labels are.
This sense of shared value even extends to all things human’s love because many of those heroes I spoke of have broken into homes to collect trapped pets. Some of the people who have lost everything will soon be reunited with their most valued friends thanks to these heroes. People were running out of gas and unemployed oil workers were spending their money to fill hundreds of jerry cans with gas before they raced up toward the fire to fuel the evacuees on the way out.
People were standing along the roadside with bottles of water, packages of diapers, signs directing people to useful services, hugs. Companies offered all of their equipment and staff, oil companies gave tankers of fuel and all of their equipment, cab drivers gave free rides, restaurants free food, volunteers sprung from every corner. And not to mention the heroics of the first responders. And all of this–when you’re really down–that is the stuff that can make all the difference. (It’s even useful to simply donate to someone else who helps.)
I am working on a project of my own to increase the level of my own assistance. In the meantime, keep a good thought. Stay positive, focus on the heroes and accept the tragedy. And in your own lives, remember: all of these people had problems and troubles before this all started. And now none of those things matters, because what does matter has become obvious.
You don’t really need a tragedy for you to be able to be grateful about simple things. Almost none of these people knew what items they should take in a fire before they left Fort McMurray. All of them do now. Figure that out for yourself. And then ask yourself, who and what would you be grateful for even if you’d actually lost everything? Because those are the most parts of your life.
With my heart in Fort McMurray, s
(Thank you for your patience regarding my absence. My curious bit of time-travelling will obviously be very informative and I do plan on writing down some very useful things for you that I’m now able to impart. It’s going to take me a while to figure out how to describe all that strangeness, but in the meantime there is plenty to discuss.)
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.