California spends billions rebuilding burned towns. The case for calling it quits is compelling.
San Francisco, California: In the fall of 2010, when the earthquake and fire tore through the town of Paradise, no one wanted to see one more of their homes destroyed. The community’s residents, many of them long time residents of the Bay Area, were determined that they would rebuild, though not with the same standards of construction. The community rallied to rebuild with what they had, leaving behind a devastated, and often still dangerous community.
The people who lived in Paradise wanted to rebuild, and they did. They found a local company with expertise in this type of construction. They met with the owners for over a year to discuss their choices and the budget needed to build what they wanted. The people in Paradise were offered a choice: they could build with what they had or they could rebuild with what they wanted.
The people of Paradise, who had long since given their houses over to nature, made the decision they most wanted: to rebuild. They rebuilt. They rebuilt with dignity. They built with love. They rebuilt with hope and faith. They rebuilt, and a year later, Paradise was back up and running.
The people of Paradise were able to rebuild, but were they able to rebuild with dignity? The people who lived in Paradise could not. And that is the point: In times of hardship, people will rebuild with dignity. They will rebuild with hope and with faith.
Why did the people in Paradise rebuild? They did so because of the people of Paradise. They did it because of the faith and character of the people who lived in Paradise, because the people who lived in Paradise had faith in themselves. They had hope, and they had dignity. They did not rebuild their homes because their homes were beautiful. They rebuilt because, having lost faith in what they had, they wanted so much more. They knew their communities and their communities knew them.
This story is a perfect microcosm of what it means to be American: Our country has a great respect for the poor. These poor are people, not houses. They are not houses. They are not cars. They are not banks. They do not have possessions or possessions. They are people with hearts. The wealthy people who own them, though, understand the meaning