First off, I would like to wish for you all to have a very happy, fun and safe Fourth of July Independence Day celebration!
I have found memories of my growing up and having very happy 4ths. Until I found myself in the middle of an explosion once back in the early 1980s (an experience that made it into my screenplay, The Teenage Bodyguard).
I've seen this in others. They love explosions, until they are involved directly in one either in civilian life, or actual war situations. They are not fun, when you see, when you feel the reality of an explosion. When done in a war situation, where one explosion or even is not the end, where you know you have more coming, perhaps until you die...it's a very different experience than we experience in our mild by comparison, Independence Day celebrations.
Which are by law, to be safe and sane.
Yet I think most of us entirely miss the concept of the Fourth of July celebrations with fireworks. Yes it reminds us of war, kind of, but we've been too far removed from all the danger. All the damage. Well parents and authorities do try anyway. But let's face it, once our children grow up and move out, they can become the province of police, emergency services and ERs around the country.
So many of especially conservatives and our new form of American faux and neo patriots, seem to have missed the point entirely. Just as many of them seem to think that our "right to bear arms" is a fun pastime and guns are toys. That life isn't precious and that we can just chalk up the mass murdered to being collateral damage to our 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution.
As we have seen, Afghans and Iraqis, Syrians and others who have had to abandon their countries know full well to what I refer. While many Americans have no clue whatsoever in our privilege and entitlements and do not even recognize it as such, for what is going on in our celebrations of distant explosions and bright pretty lights in the sky.
Which in war still terrify in their beauty. But the key word there is... terrify.
I would suggest this from our government from here forward...
People can have their bright, loud but harmless fireworks displays which authorities limit on power and effect since people will literally (and do) kill and main both themselves and others when due care is not undertaken.
But perhaps, one night a year our government at each of its various levels needs to fire fireworks off above all neighborhoods. Fireworks guaranteed to break at least some windows in homes and terrify the young and elderly, and all the rest of our clueless middle of the road types.
You know, the one's Republicans don't care about except for votes and money and enhancing their positions of power and illiberal permanency through Gerrymandering, voter suppressions and even illegal Russian involvements in our elections.
People should wake on July 5th exhausted from lack of sleep doe to the fear and intensity of the explosions to REMIND us what war is about, what it's like, how you are in living through it. If you are so lucky to do so.
We have forgotten as a nation. To be sure, our soldiers have not as due to our ongoing warmongering, we have so many now who do remember, because they had experienced it for real only a short time ago, if not...yesterday. Or today.
Because if we all truly understood it, would there really be anymore wars around the world? Or would we make it our life pursuit to find ways to make diplomacy work and to curtail its ill conceived cousin, corporatism and corporate thinking, which many times have spawned these wars? Or to have set up future groups like the Taliban, Al Qaeda, or ISIS to start or continue their own versions of the wars they were born from?
That, is the purpose of a celebration like this. And no, I do not really suggest we do this. But we need to find a way to bring this home, to see it and feel it, experience it, to find the enlightenment of the fear involved, the ongoing terror, the resulting damage, death and perhaps permanent PTSD.
Remembering. Knowing. Going forward with the intention to truly be able to appreciate what you have and what has been sacrificed since the birth of this nation in order to give them the safety and prosperity we all now have and have been born into. Or have migrated toward. Legally or illegally.
We have spent decades decreasing the threat of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction into manageable weapons and scenarios. Our attempts to beat our weapons into plowshares has led to our massive wars becoming smaller and more conventional and in some cases we have gone from nukes to knives. More urban warfare. Small groups, drug cartels rather than wars again nation states.
From fears of wars on our soldiers to terror on civilians by terrorists, some with religious bents, bending their religions to mean whatever they wish it to mean. And to be sure, that is one of the concerns about religions and conventions of magical thinking.
So we now have nations and leaders who abuse their people so much, where groups such as ISIS or drug gangs, due to poverty and shutting down crime in one country so it seeks another, that we now have millions of displaced civilians seeking refuge and too many unempathetic ears and hearts turning them away. In some cases, turning away those who are products of our past transgressions. Actions in one place, that have festered and burst in another.
Then when they seek our help, we treat them like filth and criminals. We have situated ourselves in America today where we have a president who calls out these innocents, purely for political power, as just such despicable humans, when those types are actually the ones doing the name calling and barring hopeful innocents from our shores and borders. Even when that is what America was founded upon; even when that is what America was built, certainly in part, to do.
But fear, weakness and consciously structured economies, designed to keep citizens in need, have made us weak, while we cry about our strength. Make us hypocrites, while we proudly announce our great moral authority. Make us despicable while we rant about our intellectual superiority. All which makes us nothing, if not lesser so.
As for those illegals, or for those seeking legal sanctuary, for those refugees we need to turn not our historically blind eyes toward their home nation's conditions, but our enlightened eyes, minds and open hearts to realize, and to avoid in the future, especially where we the ones who set up those conditions for their seeking asylum from us in the first place.
Rather than simple mindedly, unthinkingly, labeling them as criminals. When all they want is what we want. Safety, security, hope. Hope for themselves, for their families and loved ones, and for their children. Children whom we recently and still are abusing on purpose, for political effect and for power.
Then and only then might we actually start to see an outpouring of empathy and a determination to not only help war displaced victims, but to actually and permanently work to put an end to despots. All Despots. Yes, like our own current illiberal overly and unnecessarily conservative GOP and their leader, our greatest and most despicable pathologically lying Pres. Donald J. Trump).
"Mr." Trump is playing world politics like a board game. Monopoly? Or perhaps his own 1980s board game, narcissitically called, Trump: The Game. We are not a game. We are not, something for sociopathic leaders to manipulate for their own pleasure. And yet, he does.
We need to put a stop to all such idiotic beliefs including our current forms of destructive capitalism, the travesty of religions such as evangelicalism, radical Islam or whatever else theistic crap that may crop up, the authoritarianism and populism today that is so destructive in places like North Korea, Russia and elsewhere, all these things that do tend to lead a clear path to abuse if not finally to...war.
We can turn this around. We have done it before. After all, it's why we have Independence Day in the first place. So do go forward, but do it with purpose. Do it with an understanding that to celebrate the Fourth is to know why you do so and to realize that to celebrate it, means you have to, you still have to...fight for what is right. And not just what is seemingly good, right now.
But hey... Have a very Happy Independence Day!
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