Saturday, November 28, 2009

the salt of the earth

Words. They bewitch you or bore you depending on the skill of the wordsmith. Last Sunday, the Kenora fire chief referred to one of his faithful volunteers as "the salt of the earth." If he had said, "Leo is a really helpful guy," I would have agreed, and promptly forgotten the comment. But the "salt of the earth" is still stuck in my brain, to the point that I did some research on the subject.

It has it's origins in the Bible where Jesus refers to his followers as the salt of the earth. has this to say about the modern meaning of the expression:

"Such people are unpretentious, uncomplicated, devoted, loyal, earnest, and honest. They are hard-working folks, who add value to the lives of others."

The great thing about metaphors is that they are easily stolen, and I've unabashedly pilfered this one to describe the volunteer firefighter in general. I just spent two weekends with a group of people that are about as salty as they come. They have to be, or they would never have given up two weekends to crawl around blindfolded in hot, dirty turnout gear, or sit in a classroom and listen to someone blather on about self contained breathing apparatus, or stare down a raging diesel fuel fire through the thin protection of a fog stream.

Now they've gone home to salt down their home communities. If you live in Kenora, or Ignace or Pickle Lake or Upsala, you likely see them every day without realizing it. They are invisible until their pagers go off, or they assemble at the hall for training. Their existence brings value to their communities. Definitely the salt of the earth.

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