The earthquake ravaged building had collapsed with the two of them pinned inside. He was 33 years old, she was 28. They were still conscious and talking, but in dire straights. They could hear rescuers coming to their aid, then the fire broke out.
If you're anything like me, you sit around campfires and watch the flames as they flicker and frolic. The heat both pushes you back and pulls you in, but have you ever given any serious thought to the nature of fire and our modern day relationship with it? I hadn't, until last night.
I was listening to CBC Radio's Ideas, a thought provoking program to which I am not a faithful listener. Every now and again, I find myself in a situation where I'm completely entranced by Ideas. Last night, driving home from yoga in Oromocto, was one of those nights. Rain drizzled itself across my windshield. The wipers marched back and forth with military precision. Wafts of ground fog were pierced by the headlights, punctuating the obsidian landscape. I clutched the steering wheel as I listened. Outside, wind-stirred water from the flood-swollen river lapped the edges of the road. My senses were alive, but none so much as smell. All I could smell was fear, and smoke.
CBC's program last evening took me to 1989 San Francisco. I was in that collapsed building. The earthquake couldn't kill me, or my spirit. The smoke? The fire? Now that was an altogether different situation. I strained to hear the voices of salvation as they became more faint.
I'm not going to tell the story from Ideas. If you want to listen to it, click here. Don't click if you're in a frivolous frame of mind, you won't appreciate what you hear. The Ideas program was called Visions Of Fire. You'll find the San Francisco story about 11 minutes into Part 2. It's not an uplifting tale but it needs to be heard. It provokes quality thought (translation: it doesn't involve the now ubiquitous Simon Cowell). It also draws attention to the quality of CBC's radio programming.
Governments make a big deal about educating our youth and I'm all for shipping our tax dollars down that lane. Literate youth will help to float the Canada of the future, but why stop with youth? I see CBC Radio as a master's degree for the masses. It's education that transcends all ages and demographics. It's as Canadian as the maple leaf, beaver, Bluenose, caribou, loon and polar bear...and I'm willing to spend my money to keep it going. There's no use funding a university without professors, and that's how I feel the CBC cutbacks will affect my ongoing education.
Without a vibrant CBC, we'll all be dining on pop n' chips broadcasting. Our distended bellies will support our hollow heads, unable to question the folly of the Harper government.