We’re all involved when fires rage


The climate change/global warning debate is fraught with argument, contradictions and sometimes outright anger. It’s a story in which you must tread softly, keep your ears to the ground, and try to tease out a position that makes some kind of sense. At least to your satisfaction.

But given what is coming to pass before our very eyes, it takes some serious intellectual acrobatics to avoid the conclusion that, if there is no such thing as climate change or global warming, something is amiss – our country is on fire. And that’s not a metaphor. 

There was a time when we could safely say that the forest, which is a living breathing system, will go through its cycles of growth, destructive cleansing through fire, burning through undergrowth that inhibits its growth, then renew itself to become stronger. 

The ancients understood the forces of nature, knew their power, and respected them as Gods, not to be trifled with but to be appeased lest they get angry. They gave to water, which is about 71 percent of the earth, the name of a God, as they did to the underworld, and everything else in between and above it. They did so because they understood that humanity has its limits and should do nothing to anger the Gods. When we did, they call it Hubris – exaggerated pride or self-confidence, arrogance.

Of course, we don’t need to interpret our world the way the ancients did but it’s not hard to see that the forces of nature – fire, water, heat, lightening – are behaving in ways that we’ve never seen before. It’s not simply a matter that the Gods will soon go back to sleep and give us a break. They will not sleep if we keep poking them. Right now they are wide awake and not in a good mood.

We know that according to climate scientists that racialized and low-income communities across Canada were hit harder with extreme heat compared to wealthier and predominantly white communities. The Lack of air conditioning and other cooling amenities are a true. That still has not changed. And we should be wary and quite concerned about that.

But the fires and floodings are not just confined to the limited areas to which we are accustomed. It’s everywhere occurring at the same time – British Columbia, North West Territories, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Northern Ontario – and people are dying, losing their livelihoods and homes. It does not discriminate.

Daily we watch as fellow Canadians of every stripe drive the gauntlet on a single highway with fire raging all around. They are ordinary folk just like us, indigenous people, people from elsewhere starting a new life. They are us from one country. If we can’t send material help, then remember to empathise and know that just like how fire rages in places that seem far from us, the Gods can throw whatever they chose at us sitting right here in Toronto.

So watch yourself and consider these word of Guyanese poet Martin Carter:

Like a jig shakes the loom. Like a web is spun the pattern, all are involved! All are consumed!

This I have learnt: to-day a speck, to-morrow a hero, hero or monster you are consumed!