By Ashley Bland
Humans are amazingly resilient creatures really; not just physically but also mentally and emotionally. Think of the inspiring stories we all know of people who have faced adversity and gone on to prosper. Also of the many people who have endured unimaginable loss and yet somehow managed to pick themselves up and keep going. Of course there are also the people who do not recover and we weep for them.
Our hearts go out to the thousands of people who have lost homes and businesses and pets and stock and friends and relatives and gardens and inner peace this summer. And many of us feel shattered by the immense loss of wildlife and the knowledge that for some species this summer will be the tipping point toward extinction.
We also acknowledge the compassion and generosity of the wider community with apparently 1 in 2 Australians having donated to the bushfire appeals. And it’s not just Australians; the global reach has been unprecedented and stimulated an outpouring of support and a determination to change.
However, there remains a risk that, because of the way we are hard-wired to be resilient, we bounce back and move on quickly, not learning from the experience and, critically, not changing our behaviour to be better next time and avoid the same pitfalls.
For many of us the bushfires, drought and corresponding hardship come as no surprise, having been predicted and observed by most environment professionals, outdoor workers and emergency services personnel.
Now that we have had an event of enough magnitude to grab the attention of quiet Australians, and even wake some of the more stubborn denialists from their slumber, can we please not forget it?!
And can we please change something so that we don’t have to keep going through the same lessons?
Every year I wake early with my entire family to attend a dawn service in gratitude and recognition of the people who have served this country. We also do this in great part to remind governments that we want to do everything we can to avoid the tragedy of war.
In the same way, for the summer of 2019/20, for the loss of all life, the sacrifice and service of so many, lest we forget.
Ashley Bland is the Chair of Greening Bathurst.