In California, residents there are banding together and saying "NO" to those out-of-control elements that could forever change their way of life.
Sadly, we're not talking about residents saying "enough" to crime and pushing to loosen antiquated gun control regs. Although the voices crying out for such empowerment there is growing.
No, instead, the boogey-man that has Californians terrified -- and fighting back -- is FIRE.
"The owner of a hardware store refused payment from volunteer firefighters for crucial supplies. When a local radio station called for money to help defray firefighting costs, people descended on the Redwood Drive-In, known for its malts, shakes and curly fries, and donated more than $4,000.
"Landscapers whacked and carted away brush around houses free of charge. A caterer fed 150 volunteer firefighters daily. One market delivered submarine sandwiches to the weary workers, while residents baked gooey cakes and made quinoa salads. A fire chief's wife grilled steak fajitas for a crew of inmates. Another woman delivered tinctures and balms to firefighters to soothe sore muscles and dry throats. On a map in the Boonville firehouse, a sign offered free massages.
"When the blazes broke out, Leggett, population 300, had more fires than firefighters until an unsanctioned call went out on local radio and some 40 people with rakes and shovels began showing up at the firehouse every morning."
The parallels are amazing, aren't they? Not much different than people wanting to protect themselves either on a college campus, or on the streets of Los Angeles or San Francisco. Especially when the harsh realization that government cannot -- or will not -- protect you sets in. Like a two-by-four board between the eyes, it is that kind of wake-up call.
Here is where a resident realizes she is her only resource:
"Residents expressed both pride and shock that they mostly had to fend for themselves. "This community of rugged individualists pulling together is part of the reason we love where we live," said Deborah Cahn, who with her family owns Navarro Vineyards. "But isn't this what government is supposed to do?"Welcome to reality, Ms. Cahn. Government has no responsibility to protect you, or your property. If they can get there in time, they might do so. That equipment was diverted to fight fires in more "well-to-do" neighborhoods would be maddening.
So-called rugged individualists are usually the first ones to look out for their safety and well-being. Perhaps it is the writer of the story who doesn't understand that a rugged individualist would NOT be waiting on a government handout, or help to arrive. Such individuals dig in and attack the task at hand, before it gets out of hand.
Nevertheless, to the Californians who are fending for themselves without question, hats off to you. I wish you well and hope the fire season dies down soon. We are pulling for you. For those who are dismayed the government isn't doing more, keep fighting. But I remind you that you moved to a region where fire danger is high every year. You took the risk, and the responsibility is yours alone.
I find it interesting that moms across this nation are occasionally vilified for carrying a sidearm to protect their children. Yet these same moms in California understand that they are the first line of defense for their families. They get it. Moms in the path of looming firestorms are starting to get it, even if they don't see the connection.
Simply put, Californians -- just like New Orleans residents in the wake of Hurricane Katrina -- are getting a wake-up call regarding what it takes to look after their own, and their neighbors during and immediately after a natural disaster.
NOW, there is one bright spot out of all this; there is no registration, waiting period or background check to obtain rakes, shovels and pump sprayers when purchasing the tools needed to defend property against fire - yet. Can you imagine if there was a waiting period for a garden hose? Hoses are dangerous -- remember they have been used by rogue cops in the movies to beat confessions out of suspects.
Would that it could be so simple for Californians who want the tools to defend their families and lives against violent criminals.