Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Depraved Indifference as a Springboard for Change

And now The Great Whatever be thanked.
I post over at Palin's Travels (as in Michael, not Sarah). Two of our members live near Melbourne, Australia, where wildfires have raged for the better part of the last week. Both of them are fine, physically. For that I am truly grateful.
Thanks to its hot, dry climate, Australia is no stranger to wildfires. Usually, an act of nature sparks them. That's bad enough. However, this round looks like an act of arson. Law enforcement officials found evidence that several fires had been restarted, and have declared impacted communities crime scenes.
Despite an MS in psych and experience at a social service agency, I will never understand what could damage someone's soul and psyche so deeply that one could find satisfaction in the destruction of that many acres of nature and a death toll closing in on 200 last night. According to Kazzzz's post this morning, every burn unit in the area is filled to capacity. There's a legal term here in the states: depraved indifference. It doesn't get more depraved then this.
One of our other members brought up a good question: what is justice in this situation? Is there any? What punishment, as Gilbert and Sullivan put it, would fit the crime?
Obviously, get them off the streets. Then we as the global community need to ask ourselves two questions:
1. What wounds to our collective psyche need to be healed? What circumstances gave permission to treat the planet and their fellows like this? When I wonder what happened to hurt them, I ask not to let them off the hook, but for clarification so that this doesn't happen to anyone else. (Please keep in mind that some of the alternatives I've mulled over for punishment would get me banned from Amnesty International for life.)
2. The state of Victoria has had an unusually dry, hot summer even by their standards. That exacerbated the spread of the fires. Can you think of one small thing you can do in your life today that can help curb global warming?
Whatever else you do today, please keep the people of Victoria in your spiritual practice. And please hold an image of the day when we grow up enough as a species that stunts like this are a long past chapter in human history.

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