We can only but imagine the horror of the bushfire tragedy in Victoria; South Australians remain tight-lipped because we know that there but for the grace of God are we!
In the awful Ash Wednesday fire of 1983 I remember that from the pulpit of St Michael's Mitcham, I asked the question "Who is to blame?" (there was a lot of focus on this question at the time and for some years afterwards). My naive response was "I am to blame".
I went on to postulate (perhaps pontificate is better) that I had not exercised one prayer for what was well-known to be a dangerous situation. I am some what embarrassed about this even though there is an element of truth in bringing to the congregation's attention the fact that we tend to not take much responsibility for anything beyond the smallness of our own lives.
Augustine suggests that prayer is not about getting God to act in a certain way...ie. it is not about manipulating the deity like some sort of spiritual slot machine...it is about understanding what God is doing, can do and how we can cooperate with that.
In that sense I think my point is worth making. We do need to learn the lessons of the past, and indeed the present. (whether we are spiritual or not).
I imagine that this present tragedy will demand some very, very strident changes. But that debate is yet to happen.