Just a month from now, the United States goes through its annual paroxysm of patriotic excess, marked by ubiquitous fireworks displays that last from… well, now, until long after our country’s largely imaginary birthday.
It’s an American tradition. John Adams set it off, so to speak, before the ink was dry on the brand new Declaration of Independence, asking that the nation’s birthday be celebrated: “with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
Fast forward to the 21st Century, where the fireworks industry has taken over the “Shew” and has substituted blowing shit up for any meaningful activity in support of a democratic country.
If it were just a bright display and a pop or two, all would be well, but modern fireworks deliver a toxic legacy that pollutes land, air and water, while the noise and bright flashes disrupt the normal life activities of wildlife, people and their pets. Many living beings flee, if they can, when the glorious 4th arrives, and those that remain are scared out of their britches, if they wear any, as the celebration progresses.
Americans are not good at polite restraint and the 4th of July is no exception. Not content with sparklers and glow worms on the front driveway, freedom lovers of all stripes travel for hundreds of miles to buy the biggest, loudest, flashiest and better-than-the-neighbors showiest fireworks for their 4th of July exhibition.
The results are wildlife fleeing in panic in every direction, attempting to get away from the last booming outrage, only to be confronted with other assaults on their flight path. Domestic cats and dogs cower in closets and under beds attempting to escape the din. Sleep for everyone is interrupted by aerial bombs.
If it was just the one night, it wouldn’t be quite so egregious, but the aerial assault goes on for a month or more on either side of the 4th, with some fireworks saved up for New Year’s Eve and any other occasion demanding rude noises and excessive celebrations.
Americans seem to be locked into a perpetual adolescence, unable to grow out of youthful exuberance and uncaring self-interest. It’s time to soberly rethink this bombastic 4th of July celebration. Do we really want to pollute the neighborhood, drive off the neighbors, human and non, interrupt everyone’s healthful sleep in the name of patriotism?
I think not.
Let’s be patriotic this year. Wave the flag, watch a parade, sing the national anthem. Give money to your favorite charity and eschew their fireworks incentives.
Let’s have a truly Safe and Sane 4th of July.