If we have tomorrow …
Most often in the lines of my columns I laugh with you, laugh at myself or just tell you a story.
Today I’m not writing funny stories because I find a burden in my heart for so many. Sometimes it takes another’s misfortune for us to recognize our own good fortune.
Never has it seemed more evident to me than in the past year of hurricanes and fires, that we live in a world where nothing is certain. Not for even for a moment.
As I watched in horror the photos and videos of hundreds of thousands of acres of charred Texas land, burned cattle and lost homes, I knew that “but for the grace of God” there go most of us.
By us, I mean just about everyone who is reading this that doesn’t live on a boat or isn’t slushing through mud to do morning chores.
This part of the West is a tinderbox and we are only one fool away from the very same flames that are devouring the Panhandle. One dropped cigarette, one careless “oh, look we are camping” fire, or one illegal fire cracker will put us on the national news by nightfall.
Then there are the uncalculated dangers of downed sparking power lines, an errant strike of fire from a passing train, or a car pulled off the road onto a grassy shoulder ” its own heat sparking a fire before it even occurs to the driver it could happen.
How do we even grasp what it is like for those farmers and ranchers who are finding their livestock either burned alive or long gone through fences that burned to the ground?
If their homes are still intact, are they standing on the porch viewing blackened pastures and farm ground wondering where and how to deal with tomorrow?
Do they find within themselves the ability to say, “it could have been worse” and know that if they have their lives they have the only thing that is really important? Could I do that?
We live in a world long past understanding what is foundationally important in life. Gone are the days when people worked back-breaking hard to just survive and didn’t have time to fuss over things that had no value in the survival scheme. They went to bed tired and woke in the morning thinking they were blessed.
We live in a world where we expect much and offer little. Disasters have a way of leveling the playing field. When the fires rolled over the Texas plains it didn’t have an address list for the big shots so it could miss them.
This country and its people are being tested, one test at a time. We are being put in a place to choose between fluff and value with the ability to do that buried somewhere deep within us.
We are two generations away from any learned survival skills for the really tough stuff. Our hardest decisions usually revolve around satellite or cable, butter or margarine, and finding the gas station with the cheapest fuel.
God bless those people who got the test first. May we learn from them and seek our own response to disaster before we need it.
And let us not forget that tomorrow is never promised.
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Steve Poet is an agricultural education teacher at the High Plains High School in Seibert, Colo. Although he has been working with kids for 20 years, this will be his fifth year at High Plains…