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This past few weeks in Australia have been something out of a high drama movie. We have stood by practically helpless and watched communities burn.

But as I watch I am amazed and strengthened by the courage, resilience and compassion of people. I watched in awe as a man was interviewed, working as hard as anyone I had seen, supporting the community drop-off point where people could bring food, clothing and other vital products.

As he talked calmly about what they were doing, and as he lauded praise on the tireless Red Cross workers, the interviewer mentioned to him about the fact his house had been razed in the fires. His response was quite matter-of-fact then he turned the conversation back to the relief effort.

Perhaps it was a coping mechanism, but I really didn’t feel that. What I did feel from him was a profound level of care for his fellow human beings and for the thousands of animals killed and traumatized by the fires. He really was not that fussed about his own home as he probably knew somewhere deep inside that everything would turn out ok.

I feel this is one of the lessons we need to learn from these fires, and the lesson will help us gain much better mental health and resilience. No matter how bad things are, there are two things we pretty much know for sure.

  1. There is always someone who is worse off than we are, suffering more, lost more, perhaps in greater pain.
  2. Things will probably turn out ok in the end.

As we head into 2020, I feel we need to use these people’s stories, and their examples of endurance, resilience, good humor and care. We can all do better. We can all be a bit stronger.

I’d appreciate your comments.

From the ABC

From Geographic UK

From Sky News

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