It’s hard to know what to say in the face of the bushfire crisis in Australia. We’ve written about it before and been warned by experts both scientific and in the fire fighting arena to expect it. But it’s another thing altogether when it actually comes to pass.
With 26 lives lost, over a thousand houses gone and significant damage to communities and infrastructure, it’s hard not to despair. Add to this the fact that over 8.5 million hectares of Australian land and flora have already burned – more than the Amazon and Californian fires combined – and an estimated half a billion animals have been killed in New South Wales alone, it’s clear to see the path to recovery will be a long and committed one. And the fires are still burning.
Out of all of this has emerged a quiet Australian hero.
The Volunteer Firefighter.
In their trademark orange/yellow suits and hats with sturdy boots, hose in hand against a backdrop of unforgiving blazes, they have quietly soldiered on to keep our communities safe. They literally are the salt of the earth.
Having worked with volunteers for many years, we have witnessed the quiet selflessness that these people bring. They come along guided by something bigger than themselves and offer true acts of service. Australia would be a very different country without them.
The volunteer firefighter appears to be a rare and special breed and their work never ceases to amaze. Work that is hard, back-breaking, dangerous, strenuous and at times heartbreaking, takes a special kind of person.
They have always been there, every year, every fire season, quietly managing the fires and keeping the general populous from harm. Their untiring efforts in the face of this year’s unprecedented infernos are the humbling quiet acts of service that demand immense gratitude and respect.
We could all take a leaf out of their books – both government, business and community. There is no greater example of the Australian spirit and true leadership than selfless acts of service to help others, the animals and the land on which we live.
And it’s more of this that we’re going to need in the coming months and years as we set about the changes needed to address #climatechange this decade. Less bickering. A bi-partisan approach. Committed effort together for actionable solutions.
To all the volunteer firefighters of Australia, your example points to the latent capabilities of generosity that lie within us all. Thank you for reminding us that true leadership is an act of service to others.