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Home > News, Opinion > Opinion: Loss of reason and humanity leads to firefighting failure

Opinion: Loss of reason and humanity leads to firefighting failure

October 5th, 2010

I have seen several accounts of this event, where a local, rural, for-profit, fire department allowed a home to burn to the ground as the owner had not paid for their coverage. See Firefighters watch as home burns to the ground

Say what you wish about supply and demand, insurance, self-responsibility and a host of other excuses I am seeing in the comment threads for these news stories. This is a horrible example of people, probably due to their membership in a particular group, losing all sense of humanity.

It is easy to do wrong, when there are others surrounding you and it can be very hard to do what is right. Anyone, standing there alone, would have done anything possible to save that home. It is an inherent human trait to help others who are in need, as we would hope to be helped if the situation was reversed. When joined in a group, though, we can stand by and watch someone’s home burn to the ground without raising a finger. One only look to corporate criminality to see this in operation at a truly global scale.

I am sure we will soon find that there are ulterior motives underlying this tragedy. Perhaps the home owner had fought against the fire department for profit model. Maybe there are a host of other underlying issues. Maybe he was simply disliked. Regardless, I now directly question the very humanity of these county employees — to call them firefighters demeans everything the word stands for. Each and every one of them can try to hide behind excuses and equivocations, but through their actions they have revealed who they truly are inside. To let this occur they must be, as a group, lacking in any sense of empathy or humanity. I can’t conceive any anger, any dispute, any hatred that could excuse such behavior. It is a failure at the very lowest level.

I grew up in a small, rural, town of about 2000 people and everyone clearly understood the need and importance of our volunteer fire department. When property or people were in danger, they were there. When the fire siren atop City Hall wailed, they came from their businesses, their homes, the Little League field, wherever they might be. There was no question of who the person was, whether they were rich or poor, or whether you even liked them or not — or whether they had paid their fees. These were people who understood the important role they had to play in their community. They understood that sometimes we are our brother’s keeper. They understood that we all have a responsibility to our fellow citizens and they to us.

E Pluribus Unum — out of many, one. It applies as much to every community as it does to the United States itself. When we fail to remember this we put everyone at risk. When we abandon reason, we abandon that which makes us truly human.

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