A weekend of Horror, A generation of Pain, A lifetime of Pride
I was asked in an interview recently by a Canadian, if I as an Australian, have (like Canadians apparently) an inferiority complex in regards to the USA. I replied, tongue firmly in my cheek, “that we are lucky here in Australia… we have New Zealand to make us feel good about ourselves.” A little flippant? Yes. Man am I disappointed that I said that now.
This last weekend has been a weekend of Hell here in Victoria, bush fires wiping towns off the map, dismantling communities, destroying families and taking property, animals and lives indiscriminately. The stories are astounding, the emotion felt through all forms of the media real, the tears wept by all are genuine, even by those seemingly unaffected, miles away just watching the television.
My wife asked me this afternoon how I felt about this, I really struggled for the words. I now know why, I’ve reflected more and there isn’t on emotion. They are mixed. Sadness and sorrow for that which is lost, joy at that which survived, pride at the action made to support and rebuild, confusion and helplessness as to how to assist.
The stories of heroism and lucky escapes are eroded by the vision of devastation and warlike remnants of what was until last weekend a beautiful part of the world.
The outpouring of emotion and support for those affected is something to behold. This is touching people deeply. Most people itching to help, to give what they can, money, food, toys, blankets etc.
It must be close to 20 years ago when my sister, lost her house in a house fire, through faulty electrics I think. I still remember the phone call in the middle of the night, or early morning. Jumping in the Ute with my Dad to go out and see what we could salvage and help. I won’t forget the smell, and how the house looked. (Please note I realise this will be nothing in comparison to what has been unfolding over the last few days) I also won’t forget, the support and help my sister received from her community, from friends, family and strangers alike. It blew me away, I was moved even (as a 14 year old I think) then to write an open thank you letter to the local newspaper to everyone.
This may sound jingoistic, and I suppose it is. I am so proud of being an Australian tonight, it is unbelievable. An inferiority complex? More like a Superiority complex at the moment. A country built around the legend of mateship, of helping out your neighbour, even if you’ve never met them, I truly believe we are all connected under this southern cross.
I am but a man, a husband, a father, a brother, a son, an uncle, a friend, a colleague, an acquaintance, I cannot talk for the rest of the country, but I can talk for me.
Thank you Australia, and all of you Australians, for your efforts todate for those who are suffering through the fires.
For those who can donate money please logon to http://www.redcross.org.au/default.asp
For those who can donate clothes and toys please visit your local Salvation Army
For those of you who are religious, please add a few extra prayers for those who are suffering.
For everyone else, keep an eye out for opportunities to help, listen to the authorities, you don’t want your efforts to end up hindering the response teams.
We will mourn the losses, we will celebrate and support the survivors, we will rebuild.
I am PROUD. I am AUSTRALIAN.