As I sit here and write this ash is falling, a thick blanket of smoke has settled in above, and it smells as though I am in the middle of a heavy campfire. Wildfires broke out in the Columbia River Gorge, about 40 miles east of my home, over Labor Day weekend. The fires were reportedly started by teenagers playing with fireworks and smoke bombs along the Eagle Creek Trail. It has grown to more 10,000 acres in just a few days. Residents near the fire are evacuating and hoping they have homes to return to once this fire is out. Wildlife is fleeing in order to seek safety. Individuals are risking their lives fighting this blaze day and night.
While digesting the events over the past few days, I came to realize the wildfires can be metaphors for our lives and all of our actions. Our actions, even though may seem small to us, have great reactions and consequences. The meals we put on our plates directly affect the farmers who grew the food, the animals that were killed if you choose to eat animals, and the environmental resources that were used to produce our meals. The clothes that we wear directly affect the factory workers who sewed our garments, many of whom are not paid a livable wage and are forced to work in the most inhumane situations, the animals that were killed for leather or fur, and water and land that absorb the chemicals and dyes used to make the clothing. There are multiple layers to all of our decisions. We just have to keep peeling them back to see how our actions influence each layer. The shopping sprees we go on, the food we waste because we purchased too much at the grocery store or decided we didn’t actually want to eat, the entertainment we consume and even to the relationships we choose to have – even though we may not see the connection on the surface, there are multiple layers of people, animals, and environmental aspects we are touching.
As for the wildfires blazing, it will forever change some of the landscape I have grown to love in this place that I now call home. The forest will re-emerge, the wildlife will return to the lush landscape, and hikers will once again marvel in awe at the sheer breathtaking views this area has to offer. But I fear this will not transpire in my lifetime. So much is lost and so many people were touched. And all this was caused by such a small action.
Will you start peeling back the layers of your actions to see the connections and to see how your decisions affect other humans, animals, and our precious world?