I really wanted to write something about the fires in Australia.
But there are no words.
There is extreme frustration – now can we accept that climate change is a thing and we really really need to do something about it?
There is extreme sadness, for the loss of life, and homes, and livelihoods, and the trauma that people are suffering.
There is extreme sadness for the deaths of so many animals – either as a direct result of the fire, or from the loss of their habitat.
There is a deep, deep realisation that the country of Australia will never be the same again.
There is concern – my step-daughter is over there, but she’s in Perth, which is a long way from the major fires.
There’s more concern – for people I know, even if only as friends of friends, who live on the east coast.
But there are no words.
I’ve been privileged to visit Western Australia three times in the last five years – first to visit my step-daughter who had gone over there for six months and was still there four years later. She and her man got engaged while we were there – so of course we had to go back the following year for the wedding. And as night follows day, we went to meet our new grandchild the year after that.
During those visits, I spent time in Perth, but also some time in Sydney, some time in the far south west, and I drove up to Shark Bay towards the north west of WA. A lot of my relatives are buried near Wiseman’s Ferry, just north of Sydney. So what’s happening over there is bothering me greatly.
I think in the UK we struggle to understand the size of a country like Australia. It takes four hours to fly from Perth to Sydney. If you flew for four hours from London you’d get to Moscow. Huge areas of the east coast of Australia are burning, right now. One fire, one single fire, is burning an area the same size as Manhattan. Some of the fires are so huge that the smoke is forming clouds which are producing their own weather systems – resulting in lightning, which is causing more fires. It’s like the end of the world – for the people caught in it, it is the end of their world.
Most of all there is an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. Sending thoughts and prayers just doesn’t cut it – particularly for an atheist like me.
Forget the praying. Let’s concentrate on the thoughts. Maybe it does help to know that people across the world are thinking about you. Maybe it would help more to know that they were thinking about how to make sure it doesn’t happen again – not in Australia, not in Siberia, not in the Amazon, not in California. Not anywhere. I think that’s what we have to do now, to assuage our own feelings of helplessness. We have to look at the bigger picture. The global picture. And do something.
Just popping back to say – if you wish, please donate to https://www.redcross.org.au/campaigns/disaster-relief-and-recovery. Very many thanks.
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