Empathy for the People and Animals of Fort McMurray

For the last couple days I’ve been reading the news and watching video about the Fort McMurray fire, and I have been repeatedly brought to tears, thinking about what the people of that town are going through. One incredibly dramatic video shows flames right next to cars as people tried to flee their neighbourhood. Another shows footage from someone’s security camera; this person remotely watched his house burn and there was nothing he could do. This is deeply emotionally affecting me. Anyone who thinks Aspies don’t have empathy is very mistaken. I absolutely do have empathy; I just don’t always know what to do about it and I can rarely think of the right things to say.

My feelings also run deep for the animals affected by the fire. It breaks my heart thinking of people who had to evacuate straight from work and weren’t able to pick up their pets because their neighbourhoods were already inaccessible. I think about how awful those people must feel, but I also think about the sheer terror the pets must have felt as flames engulfed their homes, or how hungry and scared left-behind pets must feel right now in houses that are still standing. I’ve been glad to read that there are efforts being made to rescue these pets. Of course, I also think about the wild animals in the burning forests; I pray that their instincts have kicked in and they have been able to flee to safety, but realistically know that not all of them were likely to make it out.

I’m feeling bad that I bought those concert tickets a few days ago, because I would really like to send a donation to the Red Cross for the displaced people from Fort McMurray, but buying those tickets really stretched our budget for the month. I feel guilty that I am going to do something completely frivolous when I could have helped people instead. But I suppose that would have been true even if the Fort McMurray fire hadn’t happened. There are always people in this world who need help. It’s just that when dramatic things like this happen, and it’s all over the news, it really drives it home.

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