I had a simple little experience last night that led me to an epiphany about where our country is right now. Follow me below the orange star burst for more ...
We live in a new subdivision, and the road behind our house has yet to be paved. Our backyard backs right up to the road.
It was, of course, the Fourth of July. And we know what the Fourth means: Fireworks. Every residential neighborhood I have ever lived in, despite the fact that the cities always prohibit fireworks, has turned into a mini fireworks show each year. Is that terrible? Of course not. Have even I shot off my fair sure. You bet (especially when I was a kid). But that typically meant a Black Cat here and a sparkler there.
Last night at about 11:30 p.m., two cars pulled up in the yet-to-be-built street. Out come two families, and they begin shooting off high-powered starburst rockets from a base not 50 feet from our fence. Not one or two, but dozens and dozens. Even that isn’t so bad I suppose. Except that we have two dogs, and the hour-long successive reports had them horrified. Oh well, it’s one night a year, right?
My husband and I went out in the backyard, and began to find dozens of burned plastic casings for the star burst rockets. I then trained a flashlight on the roof, and there were dozens more. None of them were blazing on fire, so I guess “no harm, no foul,” correct?
My husband asked them to please move on, and one of the dads said, “we’ll be done in a minute.” I got a little pissy and told them our yard is littered with their debris. His wife’s response, “Oh Lord…do you want us to come clean it up (sarcastic)?” My response: “No, I didn’t want it here to begin with.” In any case, they ended up leaving after awhile.
What was the epiphany? Yesterday was meant to celebrate our “Freedom.” And it seems like all we hear these days are people speaking of this or that freedom. The right to carry assault weapons around and scare people. The right to refuse to take care of their employees’ health. The right to worship, so long as it is Christian worship. The right to shoot fireworks in a residential neighborhood in which the practice is explicitly banned by law. Ignoring reasonable requests to do or not do those things.
Merriam Webster’s synonyms for “freedom” including: autonomy, independence, liberty, self-determination, self-governance, self-government, sovereignty. The fireworks shooters clearly believe in those synonyms. That they are “free,” notwithstanding laws and neighbor requests, to do exactly as they wish without regard to the effects on others.
I would submit that Merriam Webster left out the most important synonym for “freedom:” Respect. Respect for others, without having to be guided by a law or told so, is what is missing from this country’s “freedom.” So many believe that they have the “right,” granted by some ignorant reading of the Constitution or “what God gave them” or whatever, to do as they wish without considering others. Replace the fireworks story with just about any in the world of current politics, and that’s what it boils down to: a lack of respect. The right to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” in my opinion, has within it the following: “the right to respecting each other as we pursue our lives, liberties, and happiness.”
Respect and common courtesy. Let’s try it more often as we practice our freedom.