From 10 to 100 per cent

A reflection on the community’s current state

By Terri Windover, Connect Contributor


A view of Beacon Hill on May 9, after the wildfires destroyed many homes. Photo by Tim O’Rourke, Connect Weekly

I’ve watched our council getting crucified in the social media arena a lot lately. There have been many accusations of them not caring, deliberately stalling the rebuild process or not doing their jobs.

The insults fly from both sides, from: Why can’t we go home yet? To: Why are they letting us back in so soon?
It seems no matter the decisions they make, they are vilified from one camp or the other. I don’t envy them their jobs after the fire, as they can’t seem to please anyone really.

Now, I’m not setting down a blanket approval of what they do or have done. There have been some not so well thought out decisions that have soured a portion of the community towards them. But at no point do I allow one bad choice affect how I look at the following choices they make.

One thing that stands out is this attitude that they don’t care about the #tenpercent. People that spout this nonsense need to give their head a shake.

Members on our council collectively have lost their own homes and that of close friends and family members. They have been displaced, forced into living in trailers with large families, small children and pets.

They have lost loved ones and had to push on and keep working while dealing with just as much emotional stress as the rest of us.

On top of all this, they have to do this under the microscope that is public service. So, every time you open your mouth to accuse them of not caring please keep in mind that they were not untouched by this.

They were damaged and affected, just as much as the rest of us. They have a vested interest in getting this mess sorted out and a duty to do it safely.

The 10 per cent. It’s become a hashtag that represents the ten per cent of people that have lost their homes to the fire. There’s been variations of course, #theforgotten10 – being one of them.

Personally I am not a big fan of either of these terms. In a time when we, the entire community, need to pull together, I find it divisive and separatist at best and damaging to our community at its worst. I’m sure that this will offend a few people, but if you know me at all, the fear of being disliked or argued with does not drive my thoughts or decisions.

At what point do we stop creating layers of suffering? Ten per cent lost their homes. Twenty per cent live next to someone who lost their homes. Fifty per cent are related to or know someone who lost their homes. It goes on and on.

I’ll tell you where it ends, at the 100 per cent. That’s the percentage of us that were affected by the fire. One hundred per cent of us lost something through this ordeal. Whether that was our home, the feeling of safety, the ability to tell our children that bad things only happen to bad people or the blessing of a good night’s sleep.
Social media has become a place where we go to compare our problems to others and the minute a debate breaks out and opinions differ the comparisons start.

Comments like: “It must be nice sitting in your own home right now” or “Did you even lose your house?” These are actual comments I have read over the last while.

At what point does someone not losing exactly what you did negate their ability to empathize with you? To care deeply about your problems? If we only allow others that match our individual suffering to be a part of the conversation, we are doing ourselves and our community an injustice.

Mother Theresa was not born poor or hungry. In fact, she came from an average working household where her mother regularly had strangers to dinner in order to share with the less fortunate.

When she would question the identities of the people at the table her mother imbedded in her the idea that, “Some of them are our relations, but all of them are our people.”

What a fantastic message from a mother to her child. And look at what Mother Theresa accomplished in her lifetime.

There is a lesson there. We must look at each other as family, both now and in the future, and we must teach our children to do the same. Otherwise, we run the risk of teaching our children the opposite, in that we are angry, divisive and bitter. Personally that is not the message, I am going to give to my daughter.

– Connect Weekly –