The beauty of fireworks exploding outward in streaks of color, the anticipation of each boom and whiz, the technical ability to create multicolored images that are suspended in the air before they are diffused into the night sky, all make for a display that is impressive. But to think of my country’s anthem, “the bombs bursting in air” makes me very uncomfortable with the creative use of explosives. I understand that wars are fought to establish boundaries and political power gains that may not be crossed. But I cannot reconcile war with my desire for an end to such a violent means of being human within a society of other humans. Surely after thousands and thousands of years of warfare and slaughter, we might have found another way to respect the needs and betterment of all people in all lands.
Apparently not, for here we are unable to reconcile raging divisions in America “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” let alone stop the vicious determination of a Russian autocrat to crush and swallow his sovereign neighbor, Ukraine. Because we have become so technically advanced in the art of weaponry in the form of nuclear weapons, we do not dare push the insane man dedicated to that conflict- in case he decides to obliterate the world faster than climate change will.
As a species, I am hoping we have given ourselves enough time to continue to evolve beyond our more primitive instincts. I have hope that we will. I am not necessarily thinking it will happen in my lifetime. We have a long way to go. May my baby grandsons become part of that growth. May new leaders emerge from this split from reality, from cause and effect, from shirking responsibility for global cooperation to guide us away from short sighted destruction to a long-term sustainable creation of a new society of equals.
Yes, that sure sounds like a fairytale. There will always be inequalities of one kind or another. There is need for balance between opposing views and we seem to be reaching a tipping point that negates exploring that possibility. Us and Them, Right and Wrong, Progressive and Conservative, are mortal enemies, and are no longer seen as potential partners for solutions to the very real needs of our world. When will the pendulum swing away from this madness?
This 4th, I am unsure if our town will be holding fireworks. There were some shaky legal issues. Fireworks are expensive and the insurance must be astronomical. Not all people in our town have enough food to eat or can be given the healthcare they deserve. There are people in my town who are hungry and hurting and barely getting by. Giving them fireworks to celebrate our country’s freedom from England’s rule might not be the best use of resources. They might be better served by strengthening the systems that are supposed to support them. It is hard to cheer for the path America has taken. Freedom is best served with a strong dose of responsibility to the whole of our community. If our individual freedoms come at the cost of taking away someone else’s it cannot be truly free.
Here at Kendal, we have our own rituals of a very homemade parade, of recumbent trikes and pets and a whole brigade of lawn chair enthusiasts who open and fold them and clack them on the ground with amusing precision as they march around the circle before our main building. That is always followed by the thoughtful remarks of a long-term resident, entitled, ‘Towards a More Perfect Union’. I am always touched by his wisdom and his deep faith in reaching for that goal.