It’s been surreal reading your many thoughts on American government and politics during this Fourth of July week (happy Independence Day, by the way). I’d like to say I purposely coordinated the overlap, but that wouldn’t be true. I will say that processing your observations has been particularly pointed as a result of the fortunate convergence.
While I’m giving you a break from my questions today in light of the holiday, I will have a few more for your input tomorrow and Friday, so check back when you can. In the meantime, here’s a story of my own from last night:
Yesterday, we drove from St. Louis to Tulsa to visit Megan‘s parents, who live just north of the city. Their suburb (Owasso) puts on a fireworks show on July 3rd each year at the high school football field, so rather than fight the crowds downtown tonight, we thought we’d hit that one.
The show (called “Red, White & Boom”) was good. Fireworks, accompanied by (though not synchronized to) a variety of “patriotic” songs from Sousa to Springsteen, played to packed bleachers of easily several thousand people (mostly white, middle-class). It lasted 40 minutes.
The last song of the night was Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA”. Most of the crowd knew (and sang) the lyrics by heart, and the fireworks built to an impressive climax before disipating a little bit after the song had already finished. Despite the less than clean ending, the crowd cheered, the public announcer thanked everyone for coming, and we made our way to the parking lot. It was a nice (but late – we didn’t get home until 10:45 p.m.) evening.
As I sat there watching the show with so many of your comments from the past couple of days running through my head, my five-year-old daughter began crying, covering her ears and hiding her eyes from the exploding commotion. Megan held her for a bit, and then I held her for the rest of the time. She calmed down some, sneaking a glance every now and then at the beauty of the lit-up sky, but always clapping her hands back over her ears and returning her eyes back to my chest when the “booms” of the fireworks caught up with their visual counterparts.
The experience metaphorically made sense to me in a number of ways. Very few of us (at least from what I could tell from those of you who have posted so far) would shy away from the vision of freedom that our country offers, but most of us are concerned by the power we see such vision purportedly requiring for those chosen to govern it.
Just as we go to a fireworks show to see the colors (rather than just sit around and listen to an evening of explosions), in American politics, explosions (and not the colors) are all we seem to get. Put another way, the red and white are beautiful, but the boom scares us. It scares us especially when we see freedom pimping faith (with faith becoming just an option of freedom), or faith pimping freedom (with freedom becoming a plank in a religious platform).
But this isn’t the worst part. Like my daugher who had to sit through the entire fireworks show because there was no other place to go, the worst part is we don’t feel we can do anything about it because it’s all too big. We feel like all we can do is cry and cling to Daddy, who we know loves us, encourages us to be brave and look up every now and then, and keeps promising it will all be over soon. But we’re little and don’t know everything and find ourselves wondering why Daddy brought us to a place that can be so beautiful (but also so very loud).
Anybody resonate with any of that? Any other Fourth of July experiences you’d like to share?
More questions to come, dear readers. Thanks for sticking with me and sharing your thoughts.