by Dale Paule
“Chaos!” Just saying the word conjures up images of confusion, fright, panic and even the fear of death itself. Unfortunately, that’s literally what’s been happening right in our own backyards over the past few weeks. Fire is man’s oldest and most feared enemy, and it has vast areas of California totally in control of what we humans foolishly think of as ours. And whenever that contest takes place, fire always wins.
There are many theories about who or what is to blame for this current chaos, but it’s unlikely we’ll ever know the answer to that. What we do know is how some of us humans react when chaos strikes. It isn’t all that hard to determine the true character of a fellow human when that happens. All you have to do is sprinkle a little chaos into the air, and — voila — there you have it! One segment of humanity sees it as an opportunity to break into an unguarded residence or loot a business while police and firemen are busy elsewhere. They’re the ones whose faces will appear in the evening newspaper, if and when they’re caught. Thankfully, they are a relatively small portion of humanity, despite our tendency to think otherwise. So they deserve little or no mention, except to refer to them as the dark clouds of chaos.
It’s the other type, the ones I call the silver linings, that warrants true recognition.
Among those tested the hardest in times of chaos are the firemen and the sheriffs. The way they react when chaos strikes says it all. During the past couple of weeks, because of the fires threatening my area, I’ve had the opportunity to observe firsthand quite a bit of both in action. I had the chance to get a really close look at some of our firemen as they battled the fire — not just a quick glimpse on TV from the comfort of my recliner, but right there in the field, in living reality. You could truly see and feel their genuine desire to save as many of our homes and properties from destruction as possible. The look on their faces as they raced toward the fires was not unlike that of a soldier racing toward the sound of gunfire, fully committed to do battle with the enemy. And through it all, I never saw or heard the slightest sign of hesitation or complaint from any of them. As for the Sheriffs, they’re either cussed or commended for anything and everything they do. It’s either, “He gave me a ticket, that [expletive],” or, “He didn’t even hesitate; he just entered that burning car and pulled the unconscious guy out!” Never mind that it could easily have been the same [expletive] sheriff in both cases! I watched as they calmly kept order, standing guard at each and every entrance into my neighborhood during an evacuation order, guarding against that dark cloud element. And all the while, they patiently and politely answered the same question, over and over: “When the hell can I go back into my house, officer?” Maybe somewhere, some sheriff lost his patience during that time and said, “Now, how the hell should I know? Just move along, or I’ll give you a [expletive] ticket for blocking traffic!” But if that happened, I sure didn’t see or hear about it.
If you agree with my interpretation of the difference between those dark clouds and the silver linings during a time of chaos, maybe the next time a sheriff is writing you a ticket, and you’re cussing him out under your breath, don’t forget to add a “Thanks” at the end of that “[expletive]” part. And when you have to pull over to the curb the next time a fire truck roars past you with red lights and sirens screaming, toss them a, “Stay safe” under your breath.