A job for the professionals

The ordinary folk of this troubled country are clearly looking for heroes. On Sunday afternoon, I was struck by the reactions of horrified people at the sight of firefighting helicopters dropping water on the blazes. You could hear them shouting, «Well done my boy,» or «These guys are heroes.» What do people look for in times of crisis? They look for professionals with a plan, well-trained, dedicated men and women. Apart from courage and self-sacrifice, people admire the systematic preparation and attention to detail that precede the stunning air maneuvers. Their awe is justified because neither citizens nor politicians actually follow these rules in their daily lives. In a radio interview, one mayor could be heard asking, «How do you expect me to organize drills without money?» Ministers learned nothing from the disaster of 2007 and failed to set up proper coordination centers. Citizens who have built illegal houses in forest areas expect the state to protect their property but they do nothing to clear away dry vegetation. Everyone – from irresponsible local administrators to hapless ministers – creates the conditions that result in the catastrophe. So when disaster strikes, professionals who are trying to do their job find empty reservoirs, no local firefighting strategies, confusion over who orders an evacuation, and politicians who confuse operation centers with promises of the type: «Don’t you worry, I am sending you three aircraft.» Given the circumstances, the professionals are more than heroes. But this cannot go on. This country is faced with massive fires that are impossible to control. It’s time to get our act together. How? First, we must change the way we protect the environment on an individual and collective level. Younger generations are admittedly better than previous ones. Second, by dismissing those politicians and mayors who are all words but no deeds, since they attempt to contain the disaster with measures dating back to the 1950s. That’s why people praise the pilots while blasting the talking heads.