I like fire engines. For many reasons. First of all, I like their bright colors. Most fire engines are red, of course, but many are not red. Some are bright yellow, lime, orange, blue, dark green, black, white, and even purple. Whatever color fire engines are, they are bright.
I like fire engines because they are big. Park a car or even a pick-up truck next to one and it is dwarfed. Fire trucks have to be big because they carry not only a team of fire fighters to a fire, they also carry heavy equipment such as ladders, hooks, pike poles, axes, fire extinguishers, ventilating equipment, flood lights, hoses, fire fighting apparel, and self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBA). In addition, some fire trucks have on-board water reservoirs.
I like fire engines because they shine and sparkle and make a lot of noise. Their flashing lights and horns warn you that they are coming–and usually quite fast. Their sirens can make a variety of sounds from the traditional wail to the loud “yelp.” Most European fire engines use that distinctive “hi-low” siren.
But the main reason I like fire engines is this: They are beautiful symbols of unselfish love. They represent humanity at its best. They are pro-life in a dramatic way. Let me explain. Fire fighters devote their lives to helping other people–often total strangers. When a call comes, they drop everything and race to the emergency–whether it is a house on fire, a bomb explosion, a skyscraper ablaze, or a forest in flames. Once at the scene, they go about their work with consummate energy and skill. They never ask the people they are helping, “What will you give me if I help you?” They never ask, “Are you Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or atheist?” Nor, “Whom did you vote for in the last election.” No, they just help–no questions asked. That’s unselfishness at its best.
Fire fighters remind us all just how precious human life is. They do this by putting themselves in harm’s way in an effort to protect and save life. When they get a call they don’t say, “Chances are, there aren’t any survivors, so we don’t have to rush.” No they give the benefit of the doubt to life and race to the scene. As long as life might be there, they go into action to preserve it. All rescue workers do this. Take the Coast Guard. These men and women venture out into terrible storms to rescue people at sea. Once again, they give life the benefit of the doubt, sometimes searching for days. This attitude speaks volumes to me about the sanctity of every human life.
I have been told by people who were raised in the city and attended Catholic schools, that as school children, every time a fire truck went by, the nuns or lay teachers taught them to make the sign of the cross and pray for the fire fighters and the people they were going to help. That’s a wonderful practice to continue even into adulthood. In fact, such prayer too is an act of unselfish love!
What does the picture above say to you?
What other symbols of unselfish love do you see in our world today?