I watched TV every night and cried. Then I would berate myself for being so emotional. It’s that strong Prussian streak in me. This went on for weeks and weeks. Then something happened. I snapped, got so angry. Unlike anything I had experienced before.
I was angry with the nonchalance of our Prime Minster who saw this as a natural disaster and not much could be done about it – one of those things. He seemed to think there was enough manpower, even though we are frightening overwhelmed and have been for a long time. Firies have reported they aren’t even trying to stop the fires. They are trying to only redirect.
We are fighting 135 fires around the country, 60 of them are out of control. He seemed to think 14 million acres by the 26th of December was fine. Now it is 16 million acres. 2 million more acres in less than 2 weeks. The size of Britain is 60 million acres. However, with us, most of our land is arid or desert. These bushfires are destroying much of our green belt that exists between the ocean and the desert.
I grew up in bushfire country, seen them up close and personal. Our farm house had fire breaks on all four sides. On particularly hot days one of us would be assigned to walk the perimeter of the house every hour, check the horizon for smoke.
I know how to fight. Always on the side of the fire, never at the front. Mop up all the spot fires. When spot fires join up you are in a world of trouble. Close down the width of the fire. Keep ever alert for wind changes – this is when you are most likely to die. Wear only wool and thick cotton. Cover every inch of your body. Don’t breathe the smoke. Have a get away vehicle ready. Go to water for final safety. Drive your car into a dam or river if you have to. The vehicle gives you extra protection.
These fires are frightening. For the first time in my memory there are lightning strikes made by the fire. They strike up to 1km away from the front – exponentially spreading the fire. There have always been small fireballs spat out, it is the oil in the eucalyptus leaves. There have been 3 eyewitness accounts of upto 100m wide fireballs. One ripped into 5 houses. This is crazy. I don’t understand where all this energy and fury comes from. Ember attacks are happening 40km away.
I love my land. The aborigines say we raped their land. I didn’t feel their sentiment. When we sold the farm we sold a huge tank with diesel in it. The new owner let all the remaining fuel run out, thus destroying that soil. I felt such hurt. Suddenly, heart-level, I understood the aboriginal’s point of view. My love of this country deepened, ferociously.
I got angry. That still, after 2 months of solid crisis our Prime Minister was the new Tsar of Russia. He had it coming. I dove into action. I was upset about the climate change debate. We needed to have the debate but not now. It was clotting up the air space. We needed to fix this crisis first.
I grappled for a solution. I always try to be solution focused and not just be angry. I found the report from The Defence Minister – only just released.
It was clear we weren’t using the defences forces nearly enough and we should be.
We had been losing on every front for months. Our firies were exhausted and in some cases going since September. What we were doing was not enough. Not even close. We needed troops on the ground and more tankers, planes, satellite phones, ships, etc. Autumn is a long way away.
I really had no idea what I was doing. Any idea that sparked in my brain. I did it. I didn’t care about the consequences. Cate Blanchett’s quote, “The only way I know how to work is to run bold-facedly at failure.” became my mantra.
I used my twitter numbers (245,000) to make contact with journalists and politicians. I sent the Defence Report to them. I got some influential ones to read it. I got into debates with them. I refined my arguments. I did long form Facebook posts on it. I emailed that to politicians and reporters.
I was personally attacked a few times but I honestly don’t care. I also had hundreds of people support me. It was overwhelming.
I have no idea if I made a difference. I really don’t. I do know that in less than 40 hours journalists changed the narrative to this and interviewed the Former Fire Chief, Greg Mullen, who supported what I was fighting for, and was furious at our PM. They used his expertise with powerful intent.
Then a day or so later, our PM changed his tune, after many months. He declared fires and climate change are connected. He formed a National Crisis committee. He stopped saying he couldn’t do anything, the individual premiers were in charge. He released 3000 troops, planes that had been sitting in the hangars, and much more. I pray for him to find the courage he needs to be the hero we need.
I hope I played a small part.
I woke up angry day after day, worked like a demon. Powered on need, anger, fear, desperation, worry, sorrow and love.
I became my own fire ball.
I am not usually an activist. I serve by looking after people’s hearts and mind.
I need to tell you this.
If you ever get this kind of righteous anger then you should act.
More than ever we need to stand up and act. Use your own best resources. Fight in the best way you know how. Our world is not as safe as it was 10-15 years ago, in many different ways. Be solution focussed. People will then look to you as a leader. I made some mistakes. But I didn’t care. I just kept going.
I have never done anything like this before. It feels good. It is far better than feeling helpless.
Run towards failure. You might just fly.
P.S. Please make sure you read Change Your Story To Change You Life. It’s one of my most popular posts. Your internal narrative can either lift you up or tear you down. Read Back Home Now I’m Cocooning And Ascending for adding more awe into your life and my trip to Europe.