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Standing Together Fighting Fire 10/26/2007

California Wildfires

The wildfire crisis brought out the best in many people.

The devastation in California is heartbreaking. The destruction of homes, along with precious memories, is sad to watch. Whatever the economic level, the loss of irreplaceable items is still great. We all admire the courage and commitment of the exhausted firefighters at they attempt to stop the flames and protect people's property, but the raging fires are too much to handle.

In the midst of such sadness, we are also witnessing the strengths that reveal the greatness of America. When people stand shoulder to shoulder fighting a common adversary, you often see the very best of human nature.

It is interesting to notice the difference between the California wildfires and Hurricane Katrina. Many news reporters have commented about the contrast between the two natural disasters. In New Orleans, we heard over and over how the government failed. The fact is, when leadership is lacking and government is trusted as the only hope, people will always be disappointed.

In California we are seeing strong leadership, but also tremendous cooperation on the part of individuals. Few people stand around waiting for someone to take care of them.

As a nation, we have trained a great many people to depend upon government for their basic needs. We have people seeking elected office today who campaign on a platform that perpetuates dependency. Instead of teaching those on the lower end of the economic rung how to work hard, creating stability and oftentimes wealth, politicians and the media tell people that they are victims who need to get their "fair share" from others.

This mindset transcends race, gender and class. Of course, we should oppose racism, sexism and elitism just as we stand against the destructive force of fire, but we should also undermine the idea that the only way to get ahead in life is to utilize government as a tool for economic security.

One of the most powerful, yet overlooked, factors affecting disadvantaged homes is the absence of fathers. This breakdown in family leads to a breakdown in community. From the foundation of this country, homes and communities took care of each other -- from the farmers that helped each other through tough times to the churches that provided assistance to the poor -- instead of waiting on the government to rescue them. Surely you have noticed the volunteers, charities and church groups actively rebuilding the Gulf Coast devastated by the hurricanes while FEMA trailers sit unoccupied.

Please understand that the one writing this article grew up with no father, no chance, no hope, and no future. But I did have a mother who tried hard and I did observe a few other people who let me know that determination could go a long way, and blaming others or envying what they had would never help me take one positive step out of my dreadful situation. When I had a head on collision with God through faith in Jesus Christ, I realized that God in fact gave me a strength of character that caused me to commit myself to moving beyond my circumstances and continue to look out and notice others who face challenges. I have found myself caught up in the practice of standing shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart with other caring people seeking to offer relief to the suffering and, in our own ways, also fighting destructive fires.

We are engaged in many battles all over the world. As a matter of fact, if we're going to win the war in the Middle East it will only happen when we also come together with the same kind of commitment, cooperation and determination being displayed by those who are fighting the fires, offering fresh water, a warm meal and a helping hand to those who have been devastated and displaced. There is simply no substitute for compassionate, courageous cooperation on the part of the community.

Government's role should primarily be that of protection, not provision. No government, however effective it may be, can ever replace the power of principled people. The good people of southern California are a living example of this truth.

Author: James Robison

Word Count: 685

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, a Christian media ministry and mission relief organization. He and his wife, Betty, host of the television program Life Today; He has authored numerous books, including The Absolutes: Freedom's Only Hope and True Prosperity.

Media Contact: Randy Robison, editor at

Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.