I took my wife out to dinner tonight. Nothing fancy, just decided to try a local place that had caught my eye because they advertised pie. I like pie so it seemed like a good plan. We had a decent dinner, but left without any pie because we were both too full. My wife commented how it reminded her of a restaurant she waitressed in when she was in high school. I commented that it was a good old person restaurant, to which she replied that we were getting there. I told her I wasn’t denying that, just making an observation.
To further my feeling old, today is the fourth of July, the day on which we celebrate Independence Day. For some reason, we celebrate this by launching fireworks for hours past my bedtime. (Well, I don’t, but sufficient numbers of my neighbors do.) I am not trying to play a post-traumatic stress card. My neighbors don’t launch 120mm and 240mm rockets so it doesn’t sound like my experience of Iraq. I just find the whole fireworks thing annoying.
I remember enjoying fireworks as a kid. We’d go down to Rice Field and lay on the grass and watch the fireworks while the mosquitos had a picnic on us. Then we would sit in traffic for an hour trying to get home. It was a grand time.
Somewhere in the intervening 35 years, fireworks have lost their appeal. Some of them are pretty to look at, but not pretty enough to put up with crowds and staying up late. With daylight saving time, most shows can’t even start until almost 10 pm. So I will be laying in bed at 10 tonight trying to fall asleep while neighbors set significant sums of money ablaze. Since we just moved in, I don’t know if we are close to any professional displays and will have that to listen to that as well.
Does this make me a grumpy old man? It is entirely possible. I’d like to ascribe better motives to it but I may just be trying to convince myself. I just fail to see how disturbing everybody and everything for a few days with unnecessary explosions makes for a good celebration.
Maybe instead, we could all gather to read the Declaration of Independence aloud. There is an awful lot in there about usurping due process, protesting taxation and trade restrictions. Seems not much changes. Governments will be governments.
We celebrate our freedom, but I think we’ve made freedom an idol. We’ve twisted freedom to mean we can do anything we want. Go read the Declaration. That’s not what it’s about. It is about pursuing that which our creator created us for, though that’s not a very popular sentiment these days. We have come to think it means freedom from our creator and his precepts.
I don’t know what my neighbors are celebrating tonight. For many, I would guess it is merely the socially acceptable time to blow stuff up in their own back yard. Some may have a patriotic twinge, but to which America? The one of John Hancock and company? Or the more modern degradations of her?
God created us as free beings, not so we could sin, but so that we could truly love him. It is that liberty we should celebrate. Nations come and go, but the Kingdom of Heaven will last eternally.