Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The "Fire Bell" Response

We regularly check out movies from the library for Cormack.1 This time we've got three -- a Curious George film, a Clifford DVD, and a DVD that has two totally awesome shows on it -- one about construction trucks and one about firetrucks and firemen. Today I'm going to talk about the firemen.2

It showed how the firemen do lots of things while they have down time in the firehouse -- they cook, eat, wash dishes, play cards, watch TV, etc. Then while they were watching a training video3 the bell rings and they all jump up at the same time and briskly head off to save the day. No hesitation -- I don't think they even bothered to turn off the TV. This got me thinking.

I've been musing over this all day. What is my personal fire bell?4 What things do I drop everything for -- no hesitation, no questions asked? This is kind of a hard question for me to answer. There are some things that come to mind immediately, but I'm trying to set those aside and truly think about it. I've only been thinking about this for a day or so, so forgive me if it seems like I'm flying by the seat of my pants. I am.

First, my children and husband. It's a standard answer, but after fully thinking it through I can say unequivocally that I would drop everything in a heartbeat for any real need they had that I could fill.

Second -- well, that's the thing. I'm having trouble coming up with more that exactly fit the bill. But here's one that I think I do a pretty good job at: empathizing with others and performing acts of kindness and compassion. I'm by no means perfect, but I have been consciously training myself to drop everything and help others whenever I see the need. This also kind of relates to how I've been thinking a lot about Levinas lately and the face of the other.5 I'm not going to go into it in detail, but the idea is that when we see the face of the other, we see their true personhood and have a desire to fill their needs. I love this concept, though I'm botching it. It's this willingness to make the effort to see the humanity in everyone around you -- to see the similarities instead of the differences, if you will, and to let that evoke empathy and action in yourself. I want this to be a "fire bell" thing for me.

If you don't mind sharing, what things evoke a "fire bell" response in you? What things do you want to?

1This keeps us sane by regularly rotating the irritating juvenile cartoons present in our household. Thank goodness we don't have regular TV -- I'd go crazy without all this control!
2Who, in this DVD, all have Brooklyn accents. The perpetuation of the stereotype left me feeling weird but smiling along anyway.
3Right. Like I believe they spend their free time watching training videos.
4Or whatever it's called.
5I know I'm losing a lot of you at this point -- sorry. Go study Levinas; he's great.

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