Wednesday, October 24, 2007

We're all affected

So, yeah. Fires.

They're happening in multiple counties all over Southern California.
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They're consuming wilderness, displacing wildlife, and taking homes of the rich and poor alike. They are brutal and scary. Most of the people in my immediate circle are affected in some way, even if only because they know someone who's affected in a scarier way, which is basically to say: We're all affected. We're all scared. We're all worried about those we know and love, and those we don't. Even those lucky enough not to have anyone personal to worry about, who are just watching the fires at a distance, are, like all of us, breathing pretty much the worst air quality imaginable. Los Angeles' famous smog has gone from merely gross to downright ominous.

What's killing me with this at the moment, though, is the reporting and commentary on the fires, by news stations, web sites, bloggers, you name it. I mean, uncontrollable wildfires are still scary, right? People losing their homes and all of their possessions is still tragic, right? Because it seems to me like there's a whole lot of opportunistic shenanigans afoot. Far too many people are seizing these fires as a chance to:

1. Criticize the rich & famous! Because, surely, if this is all the news is covering, they're the only ones affected. But you know, those celebs feel like they can build their fancy houses everywhere, they deserve to have their homes burn to the ground. Really, these wildfires are an appropriate measure of schadenfreude for all those people I can't quit reading about in US Weekly.

2. Kick Californians when they're down! Because we are SO STUPID to live in a place with earthquakes and fires. We should all flee California and move to a safer part of the country. Where we'd only have to worry about tornados. Or floods. Or hurricanes. Or blizzards. Or...

3. Advance our political agendas! Because clearly, these fires are punishment for those liberal, fornicating Hollywood Democrats. Except when they're no less than those rich Republicans in San Diego deserve.

4. Be superior! "Oh my GOD I CAN'T BELIEVE people are bitching about losing their Elvis Memorabilia when people in New Orleans lost their ENTIRE LIVELIHOODS because of Hurricane Katrina. I mean, I live in New York, so I'm not personally affected by either of these tragedies? But I am FULLY QUALIFIED to compare these two completely different natural disasters, boil down the affect of each based solely on what I see in the news, and judge people for feeling loss in completely different ways."

A quick Google and you'll find a myriad of examples of all of these things. It's disgusting.

The truth of the matter is simple: Fire doesn't discriminate against rich or poor, Californian or Texan, Democrat or Republican. Fire doesn't care if you're part of the famous elite, or part of the team that cleans their houses. Fire just consumes and destroys, and leaves pounds of ash in the air as it moves. It's frustrating that it even needs to be said, but seriously: the only appropriate reaction at this point is to pray, help out wherever we can, and wait until the fires have died and the air has cleared so we can all, literally, breathe easier.


Anonymous said...

Granted, my news sources are likely different than yours. I would like to assure you that the Canadian media is representing this news with the perspective one ought to expect (and that which you rightly call for): tragedy, alarm, and heroism. While I haven't seen media confirmation, I'm certain Canadian firefighters have joined their American counterparts to help bring to an end this scorching disaster. My thoughts are with you, southern California.

tuckova said...

Yes yes yes yes YES!

Dinah said...

Thanks, Brett! There has been a lot of solid coverage here, too. It's just frustrating to me that this Other coverage/commentary even exists at all. It's a weird (politically-charged, celeb-obsessed) time to be living in America, that's for sure.

- The M.A.D. Hapa said...

You are so right . . . I had to turn off the TV when they started talking about, "did Barbara Boxer return to California to further her own political agenda?" HER STATE IS ON FIRE! If you were a senator from California, what would you do? Grrrrr. I don't know what's worse, the newscasters or the dumbs#its in Orange County who have no idea there's a fire. I kid you not, I've overheard conversations like, "why is it so smoky today?" WTF?