Bushfires demand response-ability
Bronwyn Lay | 22 October 2013
I've never felt the earth move but have sniffed smoke, ashes and the aftermath of bushfires. The fright of inferno is akin to the world being taken away in an instant. It makes bodies tremble and language vanish. In front of violent nature, who are we but helpless and mute?
In bushfires, tsunamis and earthquakes, our relationship to the 'natural' world comes at us like an alive nightmare, and hurts. The natural world might not possess emotions like anger and revenge, but asks violent questions about meaning and action and responsibility. Many ask us to draw a line in our mourning, and only think about the humans. This is repression, for on such occasions humans and nature are bound in a dangerous dance.
In Lisbon 1755 the Western world changed direction. The ground literally moved as the biggest earthquake recorded in Western history hit the Portuguese coast and decimated Lisbon. A tsunami and fires followed. It was All Saints day and many people were at Mass when the earthquake hit. The monarchy fled to the hills to live as nomads, and thousands died.