You may think I’m not the most patriotic American you’ll ever meet. I don’t go around saying “God Bless America” or waving the flag. I don’t fly the flag on holidays, and in fact, I gave away the flag that was my grandfather’s–a retired Admiral in the U.S. Navy, he flew his flag on every holiday, and even had a booklet on how to properly fly the flag. I gave the flag and the booklet to a friend who likes to fly the flag on holidays. I don’t think the U.S.A. is the best country ever, though it’s probably right up at the top of the list and for now I’m happy here. My friend Michelle wrote a nice post on what she likes about the U.S. that I think is a pretty good summary, check it out.
If it weren’t for the fireworks ( I LOVE fireworks), I would probably say I hate the 4th of July, much in the same way I hate Christmas–the forced reverie, the compulsion to prove on this ONE day that you love your country (or your family on Christmas), and the pressure to spend money to do it: presents, food, drink, decorations….
The thing I hate most about the 4th of July is the hypocrisy. Waving a flag, setting off fireworks, wearing red white and blue, does not make you patriotic. And this year, in the state of New Mexico, lighting fireworks, in my opinion, is exactly the opposite of patriotic, it is idiotic.
Here in New Mexico we’re experiencing extreme drought conditions, and if you’ve watched the news at all in the last week, you’ll know that a massive wildfire has burned several homes, many acres of land sacred to the people of the Santa Clara Pueblo, forced the evacuation of many and threatened our Los Alamos National Labs (and by extension, the rest of the state given the amount of nuclear waste and god-knows-what stored there– but that’s another post altogether).
Now as I said I LOVE fireworks, I have many fond memories of lighting sparklers, and when we lived in states where it was legal (personal fireworks are NOT legal in all states) we’d light all kinds of rockets and roman candles. When we lived in Hawaii the firecracker was de rigeur. In fact, in Hawaii it was common to light strands of a thousand or more firecrackers, and in the morning the streets would be covered in red paper. Good times. (except for that one time a still burning piece of paper landed on top of my foot where I still have the burn scar).
For some reason I don’t entirely understand the State on New Mexico cannot implement an outright ban on fireworks. Instead, the governor, and every other official, has been pleading with people to NOT set off personal fireworks this weekend. The brush is so dry that even a tiny spark could start the next fire, and our resources are already stretched to their limits.
Many local stores have pulled fireworks from their shelves because it is the right thing to do, the responsible thing to do. Some have not, and there are still several roadside spots to purchase fireworks.
Watching the news the other day (remind me not to watch the news, it just makes me mad) they interviewed a seller of said fireworks who claimed that folks would just go somewhere else to buy fireworks, and that would be worse. How I’m not sure. They also interviewed a dad holding his oh so precious little two-year-old girl who said, “At first I thought it was a good idea to tell people to not light fireworks. But then when I thought about it I got mad. I have a RIGHT to light fireworks, and I didn’t want to disappoint the kids. Besides, we always do it responsibly….”
Really? a RIGHT? Like it’s there in the Declaration of Independence:
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the
pursuit of Happinessright to blow stuff up.
Or maybe it’s in The Constitution, or the Bill of Rights? Yeah. I don’t think so… I wanted to reach right through the television screen and slap that man. I seriously doubt his kids would be that upset for very long, it’s not like they’d hold it against him forever… end up in therapy because Daddy would not light fireworks on the 4th July back in 2011.
How ’bout teaching those kids about RESPONSIBILITIES instead of just about their (imagined) rights? How ’bout attending the public “Freedom Fourth” event (it’s even free) sponsored by the city of Albuquerque and already paid for with your tax dollars? How ’bout reading those kids The Constitution and toss in the Bill of Rights while you’re at it?
If you want to show your kids how to be patriotic, get involved with your community, protect the environment so they’ll have clean water and clean air in their future. And how ’bout voting… the United States has an appalling average voter turnout rate of 48% (higher during national election years, lower during off years). And how about ensuring education is available to ALL our youth so they’ll understand the ramifications of their votes, and can participate in the economy, and make cool things (not blow stuff up on the 4th of July).
So be patriotic, be responsible, act in a manner befitting a patriot by loving your country and supporting its authority and interests.