No Fourth of July Fireworks
Moon and Flag
I never remember a Fourth without fireworks. Potluck, homemade ice cream, Oohing and Ahhing as streamers of bright red, gold and blue sparks shimmer through velvety dark blue Humboldt nights– that is Independence Day to me.
But the Lightning Fires sent like punishment from an angry God for sins committed in my name by a president I didn’t elect are symbols of a changing world, a world where climate change is given, where natural disasters occur unnaturally often. The innocent joy of running with a spray of sparks magically fanning out behind can’t be risked in a time when drought turns grass to tinder. Mendocino County, still covered with flames and smoke, has banned fireworks. Our local town’s firework display has been canceled for similar concerns. Small roadside stands in Humboldt County still hawk rockets but the cash registers don’t seem to ching as often. The vendor in front of the grocery store brought in a beautiful young woman wearing high heels and short shorts in a desperate attempt to bring in customers.
Like the fireworks, the innocent pride I felt at belonging to a country that put human rights as an important priority can’t be sustained in a time when torture and detention at Guantanamo provides fodder for the terrorists’ fiery rage. Iraq still chokes under the smoke still settling from a war we thrust on them. Fourth of July celebrations are fewer and less heartfelt, brassier and more commercial as our country desperately tries to recapture the joy that only comes with a belief that we are behaving well. And we aren’t.*
In an unconscious reflection of my country’s spirit,this evening instead of gathering with friends joyously lighting the sky with fireworks, I will be huddled around the TV with my family watching The Bucket List, a movie about two terminally ill men who set out to really live before they die.
I’m an incredibly optimistic person. I celebrate every day the beauty that I see in nature and in people. And, I believe we can still turn our country around. I believe that this fall we can hold the candidates and their parties to a standard that raises the actions of our country to a level we can be proud of.
The best patriot I know is not one who blindly salutes the flag with an unwavering belief in America but, instead, a true patriot gets informed, speaks out, and takes action against egregious acts of evil.
*I’m not saying the U. S. always behaved well in the past but we’ve fallen to a new low not seen in since the Japanese concentration camps of World War II.