A Karmic Debt

River_Bend“It’s raining pretty good.” I’m standing on the front porch with a relative, almost any relative including my dad; the rain, a soft female rain, or a fierce male rain, falls before us, drumming on the porch roof. We are quiet, listening to the sounds of rain, and of the fields and garden reaching for each drop; we can literally hear the plants growing. There is a fresh breeze, warm in spring or cool after a day of summer heat. The trees sing in the zephyr and the birds, if it is a female rain, sing happily. We breath together, and are greeted by the rich fragrance of loam, manure, and rain.

This week the good people of Ft. Murray, Alberta, fled their homes as a massive, quick-moving, wind-driven wildfire approached. While the core of this city of almost 90,000 was saved (at least for now), over 2,000 buildings burned; many families lost everything. Encouragingly, everyone was evacuated safely, along with many pets. Yesterday, airlines were busily moving refugees from remote areas to larger urban spaces, further from the fires. There were photos of dogs asleep in airplane isles.

It has been a dry spring in much of the Canadian west, this following a dry winter. Last week temperatures in Alberta were much above normal, breaking records. There was lightning but little rain.

The Ft. Murray fire set the internet to talking about climate change, as there is a scientific consensus that climate change plays a role in the increasing frequency and intensity of large fires in the boreal forest, an ecosystem that is dependent on fire for its health and continuity. Unfortunately, some commentators, including at least one Canadian politician, went so far as to say the residents of Ft. Murray were getting their karmic deserves. These comments were made as residents fled, literally between walls of flame. (Fortunately, the dominant theme for the week was an immense outpouring of support for the people and animals of Ft. Murray.)

I understand, and largely share,the rage some people feel about climate change and the destruction of our biosphere. Still, to place a karmic debt on the residents of Ft. Murray, many of whom work directly or indirectly in the Oil Sands, is disingenuous.  (The flames have also displaced entire Native communities.) It seems to me we are all responsible for climate change, even as we may protest it. Every time I put gas in my car I accrue a karmic debt, yet, largely due to disability, I need my car in order to simply to get around. We are all in this together; the debt is, terrifyingly, shared.

It’s raining pretty good, drops striking, and rolling down, my office window. I’m grateful as we need the rain. (Jennie planted much of the garden yesterday!) The folks of the Ft. Murray region may have some rain tomorrow, although the showers that fall are unlikely to do much to stop the still growing fire, and any lightning may start new fires. The storm track, with its moisture, remains way south of us, far from Ft Murray. The summer forecast is for hot and dry here, and in much of the Canadian and U.S. west; it promises to be a bad fire season. The hurricane forecast is dire as well. Let’s remember, as we face whatever the summer holds, that we are all in this together and the karmic debt is shared.



10 thoughts on “A Karmic Debt

  1. You are right Michael, we are all in this together and no matter, how much we try not to abuse our Mother Earth, we still do – all of us.
    Thank you for sharing this and my thoughts go to the poor people and animals, who lost their home for now.

    1. The other side of the fire tragedy was the courage and generosity of so many who plunged in to aid those threatened and displaced by the fires. We humans can come through sometimes!

  2. Hi Michael. Very fine post. It is such a shame to see the devastation. It is sad to see the people of Fort McMurray displaced and encountering so much hardship. On a bright note it seems the whole country have gotten behind them to try and help. It has been such a dry winter and spring, I fear the wildfire situation could get much worse. Take care. Bob

    1. Bob, So much has happened since my post and your note, both in my life, and in the lives of all who were displaced by the fire. It was so moving to witness the outpouring of support for those in harms way.

      And yes, the fire situation this summer looks to be very bad in many parts of North America. Perhaps here in the east we will be aided by hurricanes, if aid be what it is. Anyway, we shall see.

      1. Hi Michael, it was reported recently that the people of Fort McMurray will be able to return home soon. The fire spared the majority of the city. Of course many houses have burned, but they can start to rebuild. I hope all that has happened in your life recently has been all good. Take care. Bob

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