The Fifth Element

We live in a country equally embodied by all 4 classical elements.

The big Southern skies, the air above us, is one of the grandest gateways to the mysteries of our cosmos. It’s best appreciated unspoiled by manmade light in the vast remote areas, constituting the element of earth, we inhabit.

We can fit Austria, Albania, Cambodia, Denmark, Ecuador, East Timor, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Portugal, Sri Lanka, South Korea, South Africa, Thailand, Taiwan and the United Kingdom into the land mass of Australia (including of course Tasmania) with spare terrain aside. Yet the population of Taiwan alone isn’t too far behind the almost 25 million that call Australia home.

We have one of the largest coastlines in the world yet we may be envied for the climate, natural wonders and astonishing quantity of beautiful bays, beaches, natural wonders like the barrier reef and waterways that allow us to live with joy amidst it. Water is a scenic, playful element that constitutes an essential component of the Australian way of life that makes us surely a nation of water as much as air, earth or the one we’re feeling most right now with devastating affect: fire.

Australia is a country with a predilection for spontaneous self-combustion. Indeed fires are a natural, essential part of the Australian environment eco system. The Aboriginal traditional landowners had established familiarity and respect for the element incorporating it into their dreamtime, culture and co-existence with the land.  Using their skills and knowledge they might harness the element to maintain vegetation or new growth attracting game for hunting and even in land management, back burning and clearing path.

Conditions though have been brewing for a perfect storm. Previous fire chiefs have publicly shared their forewarnings. The Sydney Morning Herald shared earlier in the week findings from a baffled bureau of meteorology. Monday was the day it forgot to rain anywhere in Australia. Conditions like those on the Black Saturday of 2009 are being reported, relived and worse expected. The conditions also highlight the interconnectedness of our planet as professors share views that factors such as late monsoons in India may have a knock on effect and play their part.

Firefighters, along with so many other services, bravely continue to battle a war on multiple fronts. This worst kind of military styled campaign rarely bodes well. They all continue to give their very best to stem the advance of scale or disaster. Sometimes they win. Some they lose.  It’s estimated about two thirds of the current flames are uncontained.

Amidst the crisis the inevitable political conversations erupt. Some strike to hit brownie points, others fingers of blame and others deflect  ‘it’s not the time to talk about’, meaning related conversations such as global warming or climate change. Well, if its important, the only time to talk about anything is now. Right now. Because now is the only moment we ever truly have.

Amidst the carnage we already start to hear and see stories that bring another element to light.  It was Aristotle, the father of Western Philosophy, who hypotehsised a 5thelement in addition to those 4 classics. It was later to be called aether: considered a divine element.

The French Director, Luc Besson, made a movie called the ‘5th Element’ where the harnessing power was  represented in human form my Mila Jovovich. Consider the 5th element as human spirit right now is the important one.

There’s a wonderful short note doing the rounds right now from the brave firies left for a homeowner:

“It was our pleasure to save your house sorry that we could not save your sheds. Urunga RFS. P.S – we owe you some milk’

That humble note, from thirsty firefighters, will be amongst the first that we hear about the better side of humanity amidst the current crisis we, not some, but all of us as a nation face. Play your own part to offer kindness or charity to the communities being struck.  Keep an appropriate pressure on relevant important topics that they don’t get put off, doing so with practical solutions and respecting others in approach.

We have an over abundance of the element of fire and a shortage in the one of water. With farmers and drought stricken areas doing it exceptionally tough. We have the 5th element to tap to show support.

The 5th element of human spirit is as much a part of the Australian culture as the other four. And in an ideal world that 5th element will do as much as it can in all circles, including the political arena, to maintain, protect, nurture and harness the exceptional qualities of the other classical four we have access to in Australia as a collective home.




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