An occasionally comforting thought to me is the way that nature with its laws goes on doing what it will in spite of the changes wrought (or attempted to be) by human hands.
See how golden and, well, fallen the big leaves on this small beginner bonsai gingko tree are? Unlike their midsize street counterparts which cover sidewalks and grassy areas with fallen gold, these leaves fall only by handfuls, which drift out beneath the patio fence to blow wherever they will in the city of Fresno. Perhaps one of them may eventually reach the miles of fruit and almond trees that lie a handful of miles from the apartment with the patio.
Since I long ago decided that my true home is in the western US, rather than along the northeastern coast where I grew up, wildfires have loomed ever larger both in my mind and on the ground. A few weeks ago California’s wine country was ablaze, miles and miles of it. As Christmas approaches it is the southern region of the Golden State that is experiencing similar devastation. Life for humans, creatures and others can never return as it once was after one of these things, and what a view into the scale of creation this is. Compared to the life of an oak, or one of California’s ancient, and fire resistant, sequoias the lifespan of a human being is relatively inconsequential. The period of existence for human built structures could be lengthy, yet five minutes in the heart of nature’s conflagration and it is all gone into dust.
One is chary of using the term now banished from US government websites, the initials for which are CC. Still … one would think that given such immutable realities of changing nature we would be reacting to the very visible results of the many warnings scientists have been issuing with increasing urgency over many years as though this planet is being struck by a five alarm fire, a wildfire that must be fought by thousands from many countries.
That is the case now, in California. Thousands of fire fighters, some from thousands of sea miles away, going all out in a desperate effort to save homes and lives in Ventura, Santa Clarita, close to Los Angeles. And I remember how in the late 1970s living in Ruidoso, New Mexico it was a big deal when smoke eaters from other US states joined forces against far smaller fires raging through the Sacramento Mountains…. How a decade or less ago, when wildfires had gotten much, much larger and were engulfing whole developments in Texas, I eagerly joined a Facebook “brigade” of people putting out the message that please, please, firefighters from anywhere who can come help save homes in Texas, jump on a plane, a motorcycle, your old Ford, whatever. Just come. Texas needs you Right Now.
Now the wildfires in this state sweep through developments, villages, the city of Santa Rosa, shooting across the miles into other developments, villages…
One of the benefits of living into one’s senior years is that we get to tell younger ones out there that yes, this is the way it is. These great forces of nature are getting greater and greater. Watch out.
In this country people are instead acting like firefighters with nothing to do, playing bridge around the station’s kitchen table because nobody’s called in an alarm.
Seems we all are too divided up, set on taking sides on all sorts of issues which, in a hundred years or more, will appear terribly trivial, to notice the fires that threaten not just Ventura County, near where I once lived, but the fires of human hatred are bent on destroying tens of thousands of lives around the world. Without a simple common vision amongst us governments become paralyzed, people and governments alike turn their backs on consultation and collaboration, become powerless to effect changes, to ring the fire alarms.
This morning’s email brought the following quotation from the Baha’i writings, which prompted these thoughts. For lack of but one thing — recognizing the common humanity of ALL of us and the common God of all the world’s great religions — these fires have the potential to destroy unimaginable portions of life on earth.
“Say: O servants! Let not the means of order be made the cause of confusion and the instrument of union an occasion for discord. We fain would hope that the people of Bahá may be guided by the blessed words: ‘Say: all things are of God.’ This exalted utterance is like unto water for quenching the fire of hate and enmity which smouldereth within the hearts and breasts of men. By this single utterance contending peoples and kindreds will attain the light of true unity. Verily He speaketh the truth and leadeth the way. He is the All-Powerful, the Exalted, the Gracious.”
Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed After the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Author: Bahá’u’lláh, Source: US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1988 pocket-size edition, Page: 222, excerpt from the KITÁB-I-‘AHD (Book of the Covenant)
Here’s a song from this year by John Mayer. It’s called In the Blood. To me the thoughts he expresses are what many of us think. “Could I change it if I wanted? Is it always in the blood?” … May the answer most often be yes, we can change it if we want to — but you decide what your answer is. Do not underestimate your own potential, not ever.