Fort McMurray fires give columnist cause to think on a global scale

Jonah Kondro explores the subject of Fort McMurray fires and emergency response crews

  • Tue May 17th, 2016 5:00am
  • News

By Jonah Kondro


I think we all often forget how vast and large the world is. The entirety of human existence is confined to a single humongous planet. The daily grind and routine of life usually has us all entrenched in a very small existence, but that is not to say on the individual level it isn’t an important existence.

While we walk our dog, buy our groceries, drop our kids off at school, or check our mail boxes our personal thoughts often don’t balloon to include the global scale. Most of us are simply concerned with when we’ll find a chance to mow the grass. There are probably millions of other people on other parts of the globe that are thinking or doing the same things; we don’t necessary think about the trivialities of others’ lives.

It isn’t until there is a major event that our thoughts are thrust out from the simple spheres of our personal routines. The newspapers, news channels, and social media sites are good at doing this.

The devastating fire of Fort McMurray has erased the routines of many Alberta families: they can no longer walk the dog, get groceries, or check the mail; all of those normal routines dissolved when the fire took their neighbourhoods. And for those people, whose homes were lost, their worlds became very small in very short period of time.

I can’t imagine losing everything I own, and some people in Fort Mac did. It is not simply a bunch of stuff or material possessions. In our society what you own and what you possess serve as markers for individual identities (for the good or the bad): you can’t be a gardener if you don’t have a garden to tend.

So when the fires are burning and people’s homes are being engulfed, it is reasonable to understand that a person, on the cusp of losing everything they own, would want every accessible emergency responder to put out the flames. It would even be reasonable for this person to become upset when they learn of extra resources that are readily accessible, but are not going to be utilized to save their burning community.

In situations where an individual is experiencing extreme loss, their world is becoming very small. Often it is forgotten that other families and other communities are still under the threat of other nature disasters. Those families and communities still need protection, and what that might look like, to some people, is unutilized resources. Perspective in this manner accounts for a lot.

I don’t want to imagine another disaster occurring Alberta during the same time Fort McMurray is battling theirs. But it could happen. It would be terribly tragic for another disaster to arise when too many resources are aiding Fort Mac, which may leave the emergency protection of other communities too weak.

I believe it is important to harbour a larger perspective when serious situations break out like the one effecting Fort McMurray. No one wants to lose a home to a fire, but we must remember there are many other homes that aren’t burning and we want to keep it that way.