Let fireworks be sparks for more social justice, and not bombs bursting in air

Jul 04, 2010 Let fireworks be sparks for more social justice, and not bombs bursting in air

Today’s blog entry follows up on my entry from two days ago about July 4. 

In the Washington, D.C., area alone, many fireworks displays are happening tonight beyond the main event on the national Mall that follows live music, whose main downside is the little alternative to being sardined on the subway on the way out, unless one has a home or hotel room within walking distance of the display, or wants to wait out the crowds at a bar or restaurant.  

A Google search has not yet revealed whether the plethora of July 4 fireworks activity has its roots in a tribute to bombs bursting in air. Possibly not, seeing that fireworks have been around apparently longer before bombs played much of a part in warfare.  Whatever the origin of fireworks, I prefer to look at them as sparks of inspiration for more social justice, rather than as having a relation to violence. 

In that light, here are some more non-militaristic thoughts for Independence Day: 

On June 24, peace scholar Elise Boulding left the planet. Her New York Times obituary describes peace studies as “an interdisciplinary field that examines violent and nonviolent behavior in personal, political and historical contexts and the sources and resolution of conflict.” The Times obituary further reports that: 

[Boulding] often said her path in life was determined by World War II. When she was a girl, she recalled, her mother had been homesick for Norway, and young Elise conceived of that country as a haven, a place to hold in reserve as a retreat, where she would always be safe. That vision was shattered in 1940 by the Nazi invasion of Norway.

“And that was when I realized that there was no safe place on earth,” she said. “And I knew that I had found my life’s mission.” 

Tikkun has a good article for progressives neither to ignore July 4 nor to reduce it merely to a weekend at leisure. Although I differ from plenty of items on the so-called progressive agenda —- including my agreement with giving more teeth to the Second Amendment and my leaning towards the majority in Citizens United, on free expression grounds —- the Tikkun article has some good chestnuts nevertheless. 

Stepping back from the politics surrounding the July 4 weekend, I still recognize that a huge number of people are in an at-leisure spirit this weekend — other than those whose work goes on despite holidays, including retail and restaurant employees and police and other government personnel working during holidays. My boy, now four years old, will reach his own views on life and politics as time progresses. One thing I am reminded of as I spend the day with him is how it is hardly insignificant that there are many mornings that I go to court before he awakens, and return from jail visits after he has gone to bed. Beyond my writing this blog entry, today with my son is about merrymaking and being carefree. As the original Thich Nhat Hanh calligraphy facing my office visitors confirm: “Breath and Smile.” 

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