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Getting Through the Fire, Literally and Figuratively

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This week, the nation has been gripped by the news of wildfires that continue to rip through Southern California, claiming lives and displacing up to one million people from their homes. Nearly one million people, through no fault of their own, will rely upon each other to battle this disaster and rebuild their community.

Just to the north in Hollywood live thousands more people creating disaster from prosperity either despite or because of the people by whom they are surrounded. There is a message on each side of this coin. The only way to make it through disaster, natural or man-made, is with the support of the right people.

Our hearts go out to our fellow citizens in Southern California because we know their plight could have been ours. There must be no more helpless a feeling than having your entire life unsettled by a natural disaster far beyond one’s control. No matter where you live in the United States, you could be the victim of a natural disaster.

Naturally, we feel bad for the ones that happen to live in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, no matter how violent the forces of nature, I am always encouraged to hear stories of communities of strangers pulling together, giving whatever help they can wherever it is needed. As we continue to watch the news coverage, we will hear more stories of heroism and how average citizens help each other avert an even larger tragedy.

Now, juxtapose the plight of Southern California residents in fire-ravaged areas against the lives of their neighbors to the north. Hollywood, the city, and “Hollywood,” the attitude, sitting just north of the real natural disaster, is the center of a steady inferno of news stories about celebrities who continue to create their own disasters.

In the last couple weeks, we learned that actor Kiefer Sutherland will do jail time for his repeated insistence on driving drunk, rapper/actor T.I. will face gun charges for attempting to purchase machine guns, and singer Britney Spears can’t seem to stay out of the clubs despite being threatened by a judge with the prospect of losing her two young children. All three are undoubtedly flanked by dozens of handlers and hangers-on, but clearly not one person who could protect them from their own natural disaster: themselves.

There is a lesson here for us common folk: The only way to make it through the fire, literally or figuratively, is to have people around you that are truly interested in your well being.

In the current hit song, “Make Me Better,” by rapper Fabolous featuring R&B singer Ne-Yo, Ne-Yo, he sings, “I’m a movement by myself / But I’m a force when we’re together / Mami, I’m good all by myself / But baby you, you make me better.”

If we are to have any success in life, we must accept the responsibility to surround ourselves with people who, as the song says, make us better. This is not always easy. One does not have to be a celebrity to be tempted to seek the company of enablers. It is rarely easy to hear what we need to hear about ourselves. However, the path of least resistance offered by enablers often leads directly into harm’s way.

Somebody was watching the kids Britney is about to lose while she went clubbing. T.I sent a loyal employee to buy the guns that will likely earn him a “bid” of some sort. I’m sure Kiefer has an agent who knows it’s hard to film 24 while spending 24-7 in a 10 by 12.

Remember, the truth hurts sometimes, but not nearly as much as the consequences of fire. As far too many southern Californians will tell you, it is impossible to make it through the fire alone. It is our responsibility to surround ourselves with people who want us to be well, even it means taking some unwanted heat from them occasionally.

Let’s hope our friends in southern California make it through the fire with no more lives lost, no more injuries, and no more destruction of property. If this is to happen, it will be because people put the well being of other people first. Those charged with saving and protecting lives and those who simply feel responsible to and for their neighbors will band together to rebuild lives and communities.

In her classic R&B hit song Through the Fire, Chaka Khan sings, “Through the fire / To the limit / To the wall / For the chance to be with you / I’d gladly risk it all.”

In order to make it through the inevitable disasters in life, we need to stock up on people who feel the same way about us that Chaka felt about her song’s inspiration.

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About Brian McClellan

  • Marcia L. Neil

    Is there a way to tally music-disc recordings and cigarette filters that might have assured total conflagration losses (i.e., the vinyl nipples)?