Two weeks ago today, I was getting ready to go to the East Coast for business. Just as I was about to leave to catch a red-eye, my wife called me, "There's really a weird cloud outside." It was smoke, from a large fire. I went to the back yard and looked North---about 4 miles away, all I could see was the entire ridge-line on fire. Flames looked to be leaping 20-30 feet in the air.
We were in no danger, I made the trip, though I checked on conditions every couple of hours for the whole week. It that time, another interesting thing started happening-----emails and text messages were sent from friend to friend, neighbor to neighbor. "Are you OK? Can we help?" We started receiving these messages and sending them. Many friends were evacuated. Fortunately, none that we know suffered any damage, though many have had close calls.
Another interesting thing happened to me. I started getting the same messages from friends and clients around the world, "Dave, the fires seem bad, are you OK, can we help?"
The fires are gone, but the spirit of helping continues. Yesterday, my wife was at the grocery store. Outside, volunteers were giving people bags and lists----"Please buy a bag of groceries for a family that was burned out." There was an endless row of carts filled with bags of groceries people were buying for perfect strangers.
It is always amazing and heartening to see how people and communities come together on major disasters. The numerous acts of kindness and charity are fantastic.
Wouldn't it be great if we didn't limit that behavior to disasters, but did it as a normal part of life, helping people in little ways, when we can?