All of us in Ventura witnessed the orchestration of the clouds burning above us, flames raging in the opaque blackness overhead on the night the Thomas Fire was born.
You look out at our beautiful city by the sea, and witness the devastation that nobody could have predicted: the devastation that changed lives, painted in black coal. The fires in Southern California made all of us who evacuated our homes question what’s really important to us. If we were to lose it all, what would we want salvaged from those angry flames? Think about what these things would be, as a reminder of what you hold dear in your life.
With the fires, specifically here in Ventura, there has to be a communal effort to come together and build our city back up from the ashes. Thoughts and prayers are a part of this communal effort (with the idea of thinking collectively in an encouraging way) but we do have to realize that there’s a whole world out there of people who are without homes, without loved ones, without even the essential aspects of life. This is our earthly dominion, and it’s our responsibility to exercise control over it, over this burning home that is our country, and respond to tragedy with helping hands and resources.
When it comes to your own front porch, it digs so much deeper in the heart and gives a new perspective. But our city is not the only place in the world that’s struggling. We have to treat the whole world as if it is a house on fire, with the people we love inside.
To comparatively contradict those who would suggest, as the only answer, sending thoughts and prayers in the wake of tragedy, I say this: mankind has control over his own dominion. The word “dominion” connotes responsibility and culpability, not destruction. It also brings thoughts of home. Retain the perspective of your home burning to ashes with all your memories and possessions within it; it’s a dagger to the heart. But community is strong. People are strong. The world can make restitution with itself.
Thoughts and prayers in response to tragedy are meritable and important, but we must take more responsibility for and over our problems. We are commanded to rule over the earth, and though faith is powerful, it’s our own individual responsibility to elicit moral goodness. Here are some things you can do to help those affected by the fire: text 41444 with the message UWVC to quickly make a cash donation to victims of the Thomas Fire, donate to the Salvation Army on their website and volunteer with students in a project called Project Reach to help restore the community (text @reachvc to 81010 for details.)
We can build our beautiful ocean town back to its state of prosper by our own hands. Mother Nature’s fury isn’t being controlled by a spiritual entity, nor is the solution to her rage. It’s not God who sends the storms and it’s not God who cleans up after them. God exists to liberate the human soul, not save us from the world we’ve developed.
In an America that seems to be besieged by sexual assault allegations, deadly shootings, natural disasters and emboldened bigotry, the question of “what is wrong with the world” is a common one. The most popular responses would probably be “the decline of religion” and “religion.” Some might also blame the rich, unregulated capitalism, the “crazy” left, the “bigoted” right, materialism and President Bush.
This is what we shall do: we shall meet the bitter cold of America’s heart with warmth. We shall set ablaze a warm hearth, and wrap her tightly in a blanket and speak words of love and healing into her fiery soul. She is the last best hope of mankind; so vivid is her beauty, her power, but she is shrouded between the seams that separate reason from ignorance, worldliness from spirituality, action from inaction, thought from negligence, freedom from security, and mankind from God.
To Ventura: this city has some of the best people in the world, and our community will fight back.