at the risk of seeming ridiculous…

The Consuming Fire

Posted in written thoughts by Charles on October 31, 2007

As I reflect upon the fires that roared through San Diego last week, I’m filled with both hope and despair. On the one hand, it was a beautiful thing to see so many volunteers take time out of their day to come down to an evacuation center to lend their support and services. I felt honored to be among people who wanted to help because something told them that things need to be done beyond the realm of self-interest. Organizing pillows and bedding, directing people to specific locations, carrying water, serving food, laughing, talking… one learns the utter goodness of life when you actively make a choice to simplify life down to the service of the other.

On the other hand, I felt despair for the other side of San Diego. Those who weren’t even warned to evacuate. Those who had no cars to even get to an evacuation center. Those who felt too afraid to go to one because of fear of deportation. With an honest and loving look into the world in which we live, it’s not hard to see that there are really two worlds. One of the well-to-do… and one of the underprivileged. It is really in times of disaster that dramatizes this heinous dichotomy. 

It’s hard being idealistic about the world and hopeful about its people when you read about how wealthier areas had an abundance of resources… many volunteers were turned away from such the great turnout. Yet, when you then read a story about how undocumented workers were being round up by authorities who used evacuation as an excuse to interrogate… your heart breaks.

The evidence always looks grim. I’m not if sure I still have hope for the world that I once used to. But I believe in people. There was an over-abundance of helpers this time. The tragedy is that they only knew to go to the ones populated by wealthier people. We exist in two worlds where one doesn’t see the other. The task is to expose the illusion of the wall that separates the two.

Fire consumes. It burns away the unnecessary things. Perhaps it also exposes who we are. Not merely individually, but collectively.

Pray for those who have been affected by the fires. Pray for those who have lost much. Pray for those who were once again reminded that they don’t matter because they live in the wrong area. Pray for all of us that we would learn to love one another… passionately and boldly.

By the practice of active love.
Try to love your neighbors actively and steadfastly.
The more you practice love,
the more you will be convinced of
the existence of God and the immortality of your soul.
Should you attain total renunciation of self in
your love for your neighbor,
then your faith will be absolute,
and no doubt will ever assail your soul.
This has been tried,
this has been tested.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, the Brothers Karamazov


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