Life Happens For Us, Not To Us
|By: Gerry Shannon, Director|
|This is the last article Ill write in my career as a member of Local 798s Executive Board.
Ive been on the Board for 8 years. During that time Ive gained some insight into the group consciousness. Answering questions and fielding complaints is a way to become aware of how a lot of us think and react. As a whole, firefighters are a compassionate cross-section of society. If we perceive weve been wronged, the feelings that come up are passed around and bolstered on a group level. What Ive learned on a personal level is that 90% of the impending disasters we see coming our way never show up, and that because of our anger, we lose sight of all we have.
We may have the thought that something to which we were entitled we dont now own. It may be true, or we may be entitled to what we have; job security, a living wage, no one telling you what to do 5
|days/week, and society as a whole, praising the honorable and dangerous profession you call yours.
I feel so fortunate to have been blessed with this heavily sought after profession, and I have since the day Chief Murray pinned my badge on this blue wool shirt. There isnt much I would change about the last 30 years; doing what Ive loved to do and working with people I enjoyed. Most of all, it was an adventure.
The message Ive tried to relay has been one of appreciation for what we have. To look for the similarities in your fellow workers instead of the differences and that hatred and prejudice are the most destructive forces in the universe. When the doors of perception are cleansed, the truth will show through.
Our characteristics, strengths and weaknesses make us who we are and we can all learn from each other. From Hedgehog downtown on The Squad to Lt. Ahern out at Station 9, we are a unique blend who, when its on the line, count on one another for our very lives.
Ive learned that in spite of our differences we are a family who work, live and depend on each other as no outsider could understand and in the inter-connectedness of us all.
This noblest of professions has been such a gift in my life I wanted to give back, in some way, through our Union and its been an action-packed 8 years. Ive listened to the Union being maligned for battles it either lost or couldnt fight because it wasnt in our arena, and usually from people we didnt see much of. The leaders I served with: Fergi, Ahern and Hanley, although different in style and personality, all accomplished monumental gains in the stature of this proud Union and in the compensation we receive.
There is no perfect world and we can all find things to complain about if were looking, but one would have to look far and wide to match the benefits of this fire department I love. To those who helped along the way such as the house stewards (a thankless job) and those members who showed up at most meetings, and at campaign time to do the work, thank you for all youve done!
Thanks too to the dedicated people in the office and to Father Green for his selfless giving.
For those few to whom it was just a job, sorry you missed it.
I leave January 1st for India and Nepal, but I will always have the memories and interest of the San Francisco Fire Department in my heart and mind. Look at the city seal on those red rigs closely and at the men who have worn this badge before you. Think of what they have stood for.
I wish everyone the opportunities I have had in a job that I always thought was custom-made for me. Its the dedicated people in the SFFD that have always given it character; the real firefighters. My hope is that it never changes. Be proud of this great tradition. Keep it alive.