Freedom Fireworks


Freedom from fear: unless you're a pet then it's Cower-Under-The-Couch day

Freedom from fear: unless you’re a pet then it’s Cower-Under-The-Couch day

From where I sit I can hear explosions in the distance in every direction. We didn’t go out to see a fireworks display, but we can sure hear them happening all around us. The cats seem to have acclimatized to the onslaught, although every so often a firework will go off that is extra large and extra close and we will all jump and look at each other to see whether anybody noticed.

We’ve gotten out of the habit of doing an Independence Day rituals: we don’t go to parades, we don’t go to fireworks, we don’t go to big group barbecues or wear red-white-and-blue everything. Mostly, it has become a good day to stay in and do nothing- an extra patriotic summertime Sabbath- and mostly I don’t miss fighting traffic or spending the whole day navigating crowds of enthusiastic, drunken, patriotic strangers; but I do miss the sounds. I miss hearing a brass band play marching songs up close and I miss hearing the concussion of a life fireworks display that just doesn’t translate to television. I miss seeing a parade without it being interrupted every thirty seconds with another commercial break or the over-white smile of a news anchor telling me what I’m looking at and who is there to see it.

So maybe next year I will make the effort. For now I’m happy to have spent a day at home reading. If that doesn’t peg me as an introvert, nothing will.

This year, I found myself tripping over the thought that “Independence” and “Freedom” get used interchangeably on the Fourth of July, as if our secession from England was the absolute source of freedom that we like to loudly proclaim. Maybe it is all this recent Brexit controversy, or maybe it is fatigue from all the election-year-gun-reform-women’s-equality-racial-diversity bombardment that has been going on to make me feel as if our national identity is being tested on every side, and on many fronts been found wanting. I find myself listening to these fireworks feeling lucky that I can rest assured that they are just fireworks- that I’m jumping because they are noisy, not because I associate them with actual bombs or other weapons. I’m lucky to sit here, having experienced freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom of speech, and freedom of worship, yet still knowing that these freedoms are precariously balanced privileges that not everybody gets and not everybody keeps.  It occurs to me that these are freedoms that don’t just happen by themselves and which need constant nurturing and protection.

Anyway, I guess fireworks make me wax philosophical. Happy Independence Day!

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on July 4, 2016.

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