There have been many articles in the past few weeks about what we can do during the bushfires. Many of us have donated clothes and food, offered beds to strangers, delivered goods to the coast, shown our support through social media, pledged millions of dollars.
It's been heart-warming to watch how, in many ways, we've come together as a nation. Australians always have, when push comes to shove. We're at our best when we're not identifying as Liberal or Labor voters, or greenies or climate change deniers, when it doesn't matter if we're the city or the country, when it doesn't matter if we're rich or poor. This country is at its best when we stand as one.
The road to recovery, if we ever truly recover, will be a long one and I've been thinking about what we can continue to do once some sense of normalcy is back in place. For that's the thing. Any tragedy happens and the focus is on the immediate response. I worry about the future.
This summer has been a wake-up call for many of us. We can no longer be complacent. We need to start paying more attention. To our planet, to politics, to people. We need to forgo that quintessential lackadaisical Australian attitude of she'll be right, mate, because, actually, she might not be. But what can I do, as an individual, to make a difference? While I'd love to be able to donate $70 million dollars or raise money by selling nude photographs of myself, in some ways I've felt rather useless. Here's a few cans of beans and some blankets, sure, but I really want to make a change. If you're feeling the same way, perhaps some of these ideas appeal to you as well.
Doesn't have to be directly fire related. But put something back into your community. Connect with people outside your circle. I've been doing a little reading about whether it's possible to teach adults empathy (for some reason this has come on the radar recently) and the research shows most of us are only empathetic towards people who are like us. Cobargo is a long way from the Shire and that showed. Get in touch with Volunteering ACT and turn an hour a week into something much greater.
I'm happy to admit I'm quite ignorant about climate change. Too much science, too much conjecture, too much information. That's got to change. Not that I am one, but I read something that said presenting climate deniers with scientific information in the hope that they'll change their minds actually reinforces their rejection, because they are so taken aback by the information. Read as much as you can, from both sides of the argument, talk to people who are passionate about the debate, listen to opinion, pay scant attention to social media, be more savvy about what press you read. And then, make a stance.
I can't wait til the metaphorical and literal roads reopen. Let's all get to the affected areas as much as we can. Let's go with empty eskies and full wallets. In the meantime support businesses that are supporting the appeal, buy local, eat local, shop local. Plan a holiday in a fire affected area for later in the year. Plan a couple.
Think about your footprint
Because your one little footprint is going to make a difference. One mantra I'll be adopting in 2020 is reduce, recycle, reuse. The whole idea of having to even think about making a fireplan, having to think about what I would grab first, what matters, made me really conscious of how much stuff I wouldn't miss. It gives you perspective. Maybe it's easier to start doing the little things. Turn off powerpoints if you're not using them, make meal plans to avoid food wastage, eat less meat, shop sustainably, ride your bike more often, ditch the plastic.
It's become glaringly obvious in the past month or two that the one thing we can't do any more is be complacent. Whether we are in positions of power or not, most of us are just regular Australians, but none of us can keep doing nothing and hope everything will be all right.