January 17, 2020

Hope Springs Eternal

Destruction is a force that many Australians have been confronted with on a magnitude of scale that we, fortunately, rarely see in this country. It must be acknowledged that the mega-fires have torn through the land and also through the security and stability that we take for granted.

The luck of this country  IS to take that for granted. The images of visible destruction of nature, homes, lives, and communities is harrowing. And that is to say nothing of the invisible challenges to economies, relationships and mental wellness that are there and which will burn beyond the fires.

Western wisdom has a saying that “hope springs eternal” and the gist of that strange Victorian phrasing is that there can be some opportunity for hope, even in the darkest of hours.

For me, I guess, the very Australian approach to rolling up sleeves and helping out a mate, even on the thinnest of resources, is a source of hope. It has not been a profound and picture-perfect example of executive leadership that is bringing Australia out of this crisis – it is the people helping the people.

We are leading ourselves out of destruction, helping one another and I cannot think of another example where the direct hand-in-pocket generosity of ordinary people has dwarfed a political, organised response.

Without great structure, without a plan, Australians have reached out organically – creating bonds between city and country that were not there before. My hope is that these bonds provide the net and offer a community and the resources for resilience to those affected by this tragedy.

As embers die down, the challenge shifts from crisis to regeneration and the tail of that second challenge is long and can be just as difficult to combat.

In the wake of any tragedy, the most difficult and most helpful thing to do is to establish a new ‘normal’. We’ve paid homage to the slight unsexy concept of normal in these edits before, yet in times of upheaval, normal is the medicine we need.

A new normal (I think I might have stolen that from Oprah come to think of it,) is the opportunity we have as Australians to continue a future of land and wildlife care, of supporting the rural communities that sustain us, and generally taking the opportunity to nurture one another through that very old-fashioned and analog phenomenon that is simple friendship.

Keep it up, Australia.