I have written a post about “The Day After” before, after the Camp Fire destroyed my hometown of Paradise, California, in November, 2018. Devastated, I spoke of that loss and the need for strength, of the resilience that was needed for those of us who stayed in Paradise or planned to return to rebuild. It was a historical event, that day. Still described, three years later, as the “deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California’s history,” the Camp Fire destroyed 95% of the town in less than a day. The cause was determined to be partially due to the negligence of the utility company that should have, but did not, take clearly necessary steps to maintain their systems, and when one of them failed, that failure, combined with the dry land and the strong winds, created a “perfect storm” that could not be overcome. Eighty five people died and 18,800 buildings were destroyed. It was a preventable disaster that had been predicted, but when predictions were ignored, became an unstoppable tragedy.
Yesterday, it wasn’t a local fire that wreaked destruction to a place I love. It was an assault on our system of government, on my country, motivated by, among others, none other than the president of the United States. It was not an accident; it was the result of intentional provocation to overturn the will of the majority of the people who took part in a free and fair election. While the attempted coup did not succeed, it came far too close, and five people (so far) have died as a result of the failure to contain the mob, because those who had been tasked with the duty to protect the capitol were not prepared, and the resulting riot built itself into a “perfect storm.” I am stunned but not surprised by what happened. Like the Camp Fire, it was a preventable disaster that had been predicted, but when predictions were ignored, became an unstoppable tragedy.
These two disasters, while vastly different in so many ways, have a common thread: they were preventable, and we weren’t paying enough attention. Lessons need to be learned, and actions taken, to be sure they aren’t repeated. The people responsible need to be held accountable. We owe it to ourselves – to each other – to work together, now, to make it so.
Let’s get started.