Chacos column: On the fate of Mother Nature, Jesus and common sense …
Enjoy the Ride
My little community in the mountains succumbs to some pretty momentous heartbreaks.
Unexpected death comes way too often and in too many waves to comprehend around here. Whether in a car accident, an avalanche, a hike, a disease, or a mental health issue, none of it is easy to handle, and the loss is always unbearable.
Most recently, however, we were all thrown a curveball out of nowhere when the mountainside above a nearby town went up in flames with members of our community being displaced from and some even losing their homes.
If things last week couldn’t be more unexpectedly surreal, on the very evening the fire started, another report came in from a local friend stating that her neighbor cocked his gun on one of the neighborhood kids.
What makes our small, mountain community unique is that when it comes to life-altering occurrences, we all seem to come together like one big, extended family of first responders. This is because we’re all somehow personally touched by each instance. We put our best foot forward, put aside our own needs, and take care of our neighbors with swift graciousness for the benefit of others.
Every time tragedy strikes, I look for anyone or anything to take the fall. I really want to blame G-d, or Jesus, or Mother Nature, or whatever spiritual being may live all around us, because frankly, that’s just easier. If none exists, then where to place blame becomes a tad more complicated.
Sometimes the notion of a divine presence masterfully planning the fate of humankind is a hard pill to swallow. I work hard at the rationale that something is out there, hard at work, who sees a bigger picture. I’m trying, but nothing makes sense when tragedy strikes. “Faith and prayer” is what I’m told to employ. Like I said, I’m working on it.
The ones that seem to pay the price the most and take the fall the hardest are the loved ones left behind or the innocent children in our schools taken too soon from their families. I see the faithful recyclers, ranchers and intelligent food advocates honor our earth, but have to witness her perpetuated abuse. I am obligated to question why these individuals always seem to take the hits for our folly.
Generally I take things in stride, repetitiously stating that, “This is all happening for a reason.” But just this past week, I’ve had to struggle to make sense of the fact that two careless idiots set off a blaze directly impacting the emotional well-being of so many residents of a happy, quiet, peaceful town. They will surely pay for their recklessness and the result of their actions will be felt for decades. They’re the fools; however, am I a foolish conspirator in allowing it to happen in the first place?
My common sense tells me that we all need to work a little bit harder at changing the course of our future because our overall hubris and abundance hijacks our critical thinking skills. Easier said than done, I know. I’m part of the problem, too.
For example, I know I should advocate for change in our national policy on the emotional education of our youth. This is because I firmly believe rampant depression is, in part, a precursor to mass shootings and suicide among our children. I should fight that fight a little bit harder.
Others will say that I should actively advocate for increased climate change regulations because our forest fires, drought and last season’s lack of snow really is a good indicator that we’re destroying our planet one straw at a time. I should probably fight that fight a little bit harder too.
And after every school shooting or haphazard display of gun ownership, I know I should fight for increased regulations and more responsible gun control. This one is mind-boggling to me because it’s just such basic, common sense. Guns really do kill people. And yes, people pull the damn trigger. But if you want to sit around and debate the intricacies of that hair, then I hope you’ll never feel the pain of losing a loved one from the wrong end of a gun. I know I should fight that fight a lot harder, too.
But why haven’t I prayed more deeply or why haven’t I advocated more loudly? Unfortunately, I may already know the answer. I’m too lazy. I’m too white. I’m too privileged. I’m too busy. I’m too filled with excuses.
But thank goodness I have friends that poke and prod saying that empathy and good deeds after the fact aren’t enough anymore. Remember, they’re my nagging, extended family, and they won’t allow me to rest on my abundance any longer.
Andrea Chacos lives in Carbondale, balancing work and happily raising three children with her husband. She strives to dodge curveballs life likes to throw with a bit of passion, humor and some flair.