Fireworks! Yesterday was Independence Day, and the skies all over town were alit last night, and the night before, and the week before, and frequently during the month and more preceding yesterday. I know John Adams foretold that the nation would celebrate this day of independence every year in perpetuity with song, parades, speeches, and such, including lighting up the sky. But he did say this ‘day,’ not this week or this month.
And you have to wonder if he ever considered the risks. Although, if he did, he probably assumed his fellow Americans would be able to celebrate but still avoid burning down their homes along with the surrounding countryside he and his fellow founders fought so hard to obtain for us.
You have to wonder, too, if so large a percentage of the supposedly adult folks of his time were as self-centered and childish as what we have in these later years. Probably not, or he would have included things like paying attention, before lighting the fuse, to what is around you that would not be a good place for a stray spark or around where the thing launched and thus beyond control might land.
But they’re fun! It’s so exciting to twirl a fiery sparkler around your head so the sparks shower down around you, or to toss into the air to make a fiery trail against the sky like a meteor. It not that hard to take notice of where they land so they aren’t stepped on with bare feet or ignite something not intended to burn. And they don’t really hurt all that much when they land on you, although a small child feeling the singe on tender, bare skin may offer a different opinion. It’s exciting to watch the sudden flash and hear the bang, so much like the sound of a real gunshot that it’s supposed to simulate, of a firecracker, either laughingly tossed at the feet of a friend, or just anyone handy, and to watch their reaction of jumping and screaming in fright and maybe even unintended pain. So much fun. And it’s usually easy enough to take care that the thing doesn’t actually land on any person, dog, or flammable material…unless that was the intent in the first place. It’s exciting to watch the roman candles and skyrockets go off, shooting out all those brilliant stars (each of which is a burning glob of something containing various metals, some of which are toxic, that produce the different colors) to rain down on the land being celebrated as the greatest realization of freedom in the history of the mankind, as the current declaration goes.
Most of the time, goes the claim, those burning globs just land on bare dirt or green lawns or rocky ground or paved streets or like places where they peacefully burn out. And that is probably true, but not always. Sometimes they land in a bit of dry grass or accumulation of dry leaves and twigs, or a dry leaf-filled rain gutter on the eave of a house, or a nitch on a roof where leaves have accumulated or a tree branch with a few dead, dry leaves or needles high up where even a soft breeze can, even hours later, breathe it into a raging inferno, a demon all too familiar at this time of year. Yes, fireworks are exciting and fun, just like other toys. And, yes, fireworks are toys. Look up the word, ‘toy,’ in any dictionary.
I’m sure the children of Mr. Adams’ time had their toys, and the indulgent adults probably smiled at their play. Of course, the adults likely had a say in the nature of the toys their children were allowed to play with, being aware of the fact that a child may lack the judgment to make safe and reasonable choices of toys. And, I’m sure there were children back then that lacked attentive adults, and that managed to obtain and play with toys they should have been denied, but I doubt if they made up the majority of society, or at least the large percentage that they do today. You have to wonder, too, if they tolerated twenty, thirty, and forty-year-old children insisting on playing with dangerous toys in such a way that could result in the destruction all or much of what they had. And, if not, when did this phenomenon begin?
Yeah, I know. I’m just a crotchety, old coot that wants to spoil everyone’s fun. But, not really. I like to have fun, too. I like exciting things. But I prefer to have those exciting things (still speaking about fireworks here) controlled by people who know what the hell they are doing, and can put on the display without putting my home, neighborhood, and town in jeopardy. And I also believe that when knowledgable folks, using accurate data, scientific training, and concurrence with sensible persons in government, determine that now is not a good time to put on a show that would draw hundreds or thousands into close proximity, it is best to not put on the show. Then the adults in the populace can explain to the children that the show cannot go on and why. It would be nice, then, if none of the children, of whatever age, simply accepted the wisdom of their elders and didn’t go throwing a tantrum which would include putting on their own show because they managed to obtain their own toys, and to hell with society and all the crotchety old coots. Because, hey, they have a right. Yeah. Happy Independence Day.