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Disaster Resilience: Choosing Love in the Face of Fear

Navigating the Australian Bushfire Crisis

West Gippsland Sunset 5 January 2020 | Carmel Riley

This decade transition will not be forgotten. 

If you are struggling as a bystander to the bushfire crisis, you can reach out for support through Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636

Jacob Devaney of Culture Collective writes:

“The psychological benefits of choosing love in the face of fear are profound…especially during times of darkness…If the world feels unsafe to you, you can still cultivate safety within. This can be through daily routine, meditation, journalling….by allowing the feeling of safety to group within us, out biology responds accordingly…We shift from the fight-flight chemistry…into a nurturing state of restoration, love and peace…This gives us an internal compass to orient to when we face darkness…”

“Every act of kindness, every community gathering is an opportunity to cast your vote and paint love upon the canvas of life…[however]…The Dalai Lama reminds us that while we may clear our minds and centre us for spiritual resilience, it is going to take action.”

“This action can come in every form of interaction you have, every post you share on social media…Continuously ask yourself, ‘Am I acting from a place of love or fear?'”

I live two hours from the fire front and have felt helpless. I have previously lived and served these communities, I have friends and colleagues living in these communities. I have lived experience of Vicarious Trauma and the sense of overwhelm and inaction that can occur when empathy boundaries are overtaken by a fawn response.

I have also experienced the unintended consequences of well-meaning actions regarding donations of material aid and volunteer time, and the leadership challenge faced when there is not capacity to support these unplanned aid efforts.

It has been absolutely heartening to read the efforts of those in community who are able to recognise the logistic challenges behind material aid efforts, and whilst coordinating collection of goods requested by relief centres, have also taken ownership of sorting, storage and staged delivery as to not overwhelm the front line support agencies.

The sunset from my West Gippsland property on 5th January 2020 illustrates the reality of paradox and complexity in Australian Disaster Resilience. Smoke haze, rainbows and deep colouring painted the sky. A humble reminder of multiple truths…how something so awful and devestating can cause something else so beautiful.

If you are a bystander to the bushfire crisis and ready to take love-based action, some options are listed below:

Much of our Australian South Coast is dependant on Tourism, and there is not better love-based action than planning ahead and not forgetting that local community economies will need signficant recovery support also:

  • Plan future holidays in fire affected towns
  • If you are a philanthropist, foundation trustee or impact investor, quarantine funds and engage with your networds to coordinate future investment and collective impact in fire affected communities

Wishing you a safe and supported 2020.

Have you got other ideas for love based action?

How you do manage your self-care during times of crisis?

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