Let’s suppose a “story”. This story is about a man who lives in a normal home with a normal family. There is nothing special at all about that man, other then a simple inquisitive nature that he often follows simply because he inclined to do so.
In his neighborhood, there are many other men and women who are just like him in all respects, but only lacking in this inquisitive characteristic. Some are smarter, some are not, some are wealthier, some are poorer, but for the most part, everybody is really the same.
One day, the man is at home and he smells smoke. Thinking to himself, “Where there’s smoke, their fire”, he goes outside and looks around, trying to spot the source of the fire. The smell of smoke is still there, but he cannot spot the fire. It’s nowhere near his house, nor any of his neighbors houses as far as he can see.
Checking the television, the news does not report any fire either. Thinking this a bit strange, the man checks online. There, he finds signs of a fire, but it is way off in the distant. It’s a fire that has been burning a long time, gathering strength day by day, developing into a raging inferno. But it’s still a long ways off, or so it seems thinks the man, but it’s still a pretty big fire after all.
Because he lives in an area that can burn, the man thinks to himself, “I should probably get ready for this fire in case this fire manages to come near me”.
So the man sets to work, first sitting down and planning what he thinks he should do. His first thought it to stop the fire before it get to his house. So armed with this knowledge, he sets out to do exactly that. He writes his Congressman and request that they direct their attention to this issue. Waiting a long time and receiving no reply, he tries his Senator and even the Governor of his state. He receives only one response from all of them, a form letter thanking him for his letter.
Perplexed, he joins a few groups he finds online, and even participates in a few marches and campaigns they promote to increase the public awareness of the fire. The fire is bigger now and the smell of smoke even stronger and it strange as every that nobody else seems to notice.
STOP THE FIRE is their slogan, but few seem to listen. The media presents them all as kooks and nobody really pays any attention. A few of this group even get arrested and beat up by the cops for simply holding up their signs. “You don’t have a permit to do that — you’re going to jail” they say. Some are tasered, others are just simply clubbed down.
Frustrated, the man returns home in resignation. No point in doing that he thinks. Thinking that there is something he can do, he begins to clear away the flammables around his house and property. While doing this, his neighbor comes over and sees all of this activity. “What are you doing neighbor? You sure look mighty busy!” he asks.
The man stops in his activity and tells his inquiring neighbor about the smoke and how he found out that there was a big fire coming and how he’s been trying hard to stop it. But his neighbor wasn’t buying any of it. “What smoke? What fire? I don’t smell anything. I don’t see anything. You’re worrying yourself over nothing”. The man assured him he was not, that there really was a big fire coming and that the smell of smoke was even stronger then before.
Not having any of it, his neighbor goes back into this house shaking his head. “He’s crazy! he thinks. Flipping through the television channels, he sees nothing to support the idea his neighbors position. Since it’s not on t.v., it couldn’t possibly be true. His neighbor is just plain crazy, that’s all.
Undaunted, the man tries again. He pounds on his neighbor door and said, “You know, if we worked at this together, we could sure get a lot more done before that fire gets here”. His neighbor threw him off the porch and ordered him never to come back again.
Now clearly upset, the man turned to his wife. “Nobody is listening! I don’t understand it! The smell of smoke is everywhere! You’d think I was trying to sell snake oil or something!”. His wife smiles, but says nothing, because she knows it’s true. To everyone else, it is snake oil, sometimes she thinks so too, but won’t say anything out of respect for her husband.
The man redoubles his efforts to make his own home safe from the fire, but he quickly realizes that this is an impossible task. He simply can’t clear away enough material by himself. There’s trees, brush, grass and all kinds of wooden structures reaching all around. All of his neighbors properties have large wooded lots too with many burnable trees and brush on them and fences connected them all. If they catch fire, and they probably will he notes ruefully, his property will too, no matter what he does.
It’s very clear to him now, as the smell of smoke grows even stronger, that he’s going to lose everything, and so will everyone else. Some of his neighbors have finally come outside and sniffed the air, but as far as he can tell, that’s all they’ve done. Usually, they stop to do this as their carrying the groceries in from the supermarket, but they don’t take long.
He decides that his priorities must change since nobody else seems the least bit concerned and he places his family’s survival at the top of his list. He buys up the food and supplies he thinks he’s going to need, since the approaching fire will consume everything, even the farmers fields. The UPS man makes many deliveries and even the neighbors finally notice this. They wonder what all the deliveries are for, but the man keeps his mouth shut this time and doesn’t tell them anything. Its hard enough to convince his wife of this need, let alone everyone else.
Around the country, this scenario is repeated a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand times over in neighborhoods all around the country. The wait for supplies grows longer and longer as the smell of smoke grows stronger and stronger. Former efforts to stop the fire have all ceased, their participants having finally realized that it was far too late by far too few. They all line up and do the same things — buy supplies, plant gardens for food, clear away as many flammables as they can — and keep their mouths shut. Too many of them have already been branded as heretics, troublemakers and doomsayers, some were even arrested for simply trying too hard.
The fire comes and begins to burn the neighborhoods around the nation. They don’t all start burning at once, it’s a strange fire, the fires begin here, then there, as the swirling flames force hot ashes into the sky, blowing them all around, to touch down miles and miles apart, starting new fires afresh.
People are forced out of their homes as their lives are burned up. Tent cities spring up as the number of homeless increase. Confused, distraught and wondering how it could have all happened, the people wring their hands in misery and grief and beseech the heavens for mercy. But it does no good at all, the fire continues to spread and now the raining hot ashes are starting even more fires faster and faster as more flammable materials are hungrily sought by the licking flames.
Then the neighbors remember that man in their midst who stood alone way back and told them about the coming fire, and how they should all work together and prepare and make ready for that day. They rush to his house to find it boarded up and nobody answering the door. Breaking in, they find it abandoned, the man and his family having already fled.
In other neighborhoods, they break in and find the man and his family inside, and they demand of him to stop the fire. He tells them that it’s too late, he can’t and they rend him to pieces in anger and frustration instead, plundering his supplies and hoping against all hope that they will somehow be spared for their crimes of commission and omission. They won’t.
This scenario is repeated a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand times around the nation as the fire spreads from neighborhood to neighborhood. The outcome is predictably the same. Nobody can stop the fire, and killing the messenger doesn’t stop it either. In many cases, the messenger has fled because it was the only safe thing he could do. It was far too late to convince his neighbors that their neighborhood was going to burn to the ground leaving nothing but dust and ashes. But they would not listen until their property and their lives were directly threatened. And even then, many still claimed that the fire department would put out the fire, but the fire department never came.
In fact, nobody came to the rescue. It was as if they all took a leave of absence, even heaven itself. It was if somebody hung a sign on the door, saying “Closed for Business”.
The fire burns with a raging intensity, reburning charred wood and material again and again, consuming everything in its path. A super-inferno has been created, creating it’s own weather pattern it’s so hot and huge. Everything in its path is totally consumed. Very few survive, only the well protected and well hidden who have removed all the flammables from around them are still alive.
But the fire first creates huge refugee camps, where thousands pour into fleeing the flames licking their heels as their livelihoods and their homes burn to the ground. A humanitarian crisis of unbelievable proportions develops as the flames spread wider and farther. Disease outbreaks kill thousands, as sanitation and fresh water supplies are taxed past all possible limits.
Many flee the camps, dying in the flames or by roving mobs of hungry soldiers. The days of the dead are everywhere and the survivors are few. This is as bad as a few had predicted, but much worse then most. But it doesn’t matter now, because all of those voices are now silent, having died or disappeared forever. Even history won’t record them, the heralders of doom who failed.
A few survivors live on as the fire burns over them. They survived only because they prepared when everyone else did not. What flammable things they had, they got rid of, selling them off to those that would still buy them and converting them into the things they were going to need. It wasn’t easy, and many of these did not survive anyway. But those that did were hardened by the experience out of necessity and need. They helped when they could and said “No” when they could not. It’s why they survived.
History records this time as the collapse of civilization. It does not remember everything, or even most things, which is too bad. But it remembers enough. The horrors would rather be forgotten like all of us now are, who wasted and destroyed the Earth in our foolish and insane attempt to harness everything for our own pleasure. All that remains is swirling ash, the only residue of a lush, green Earth, once filled with life and living things.