I can’t just sit and watch fireworks.
When I see fireworks, it brings scenes to my mind of people watching lights in the sky—lights that aren’t merely for entertainment but are also for destruction.
It brings to mind fear and death and war and worse—a celebration of war.
I feel that fireworks and war are connected.
To me, fireworks are bombs wearing another dress—a sparkly dress, a pretty dress, even a fluffy dress, yes, but nevertheless, a dress designed to cover up what is underneath. To me, when people celebrate fireworks, they are really celebrating death and destruction, and the very sight of lights in the sky strikes terror in my heart.
When my grandson was three-years-old, I went with him and his mother to a fireworks display. Every time the fireworks went off in the sky, my grandson would put his little hands over his eyes. He was terrified.
I couldn’t blame him. In fact, it is my natural instinct to put my own hands over my own eyes when there are fireworks in the sky. In fact, I think that is what people are doing with their internal eyes when there are fireworks—they are putting their hands over them so that they don’t see what the fireworks are really about.
Lights in the sky are almost never a good thing. For instance there’s lightening, which is natural, but in Arizona it’s destructive—it can, and does, kill.There’s fireworks, which are man-made, and which are essentially replicas of bombs—those other things that can, and do, kill. And of course, there are the bombs themselves.
I do understand that “soaring spirit” nature of fireworks. I understand the fact that they make people want to collectively “Oohhh!” and “Aahhh!” when they spurt and pop and flash. I understand they hilariously represent Audrey Hepburn’s loss of virginity in Roman Holiday, and that they have accompanied many lavish scenes of celebration in movies and in real life as well. I know that it was the Chinese who discovered them, and they thought that they warded off evil spirits. I understand that, to most people, fireworks represent all of these other things and that I am in the minority with my feelings.
However, what I don’t understand is how people cannot see that fireworks also represent bombs, killing, maiming and death.
Maybe I don’t know how to compartmentalize well enough. Maybe I don’t know how to forget my PTSD father jumping at the sound of a car backfiring or the sound of a glass dropping off the table. Maybe I don’t know how to get over the fact that because of that, we never saw fireworks when I was a child, and so I don’t associate them with fun, picnics and barbecues. I associate them with—well, what they are meant to be associated with (at least to me)—bombs and war.
Fireworks make me afraid.
Ultimately, I don’t like the reminder of how fragile we are and of how easily we too could be the people huddled together on the other side of the river, watching while our homes and cities are bombed to the ground by people who have bigger and better (worse) bombs than we do.
I don’t like the reminder of the death and destruction we are capable of. In the case of fireworks, we have removed the death and destruction from the bombs, so we are only shooting blanks.
But ultimately, I don’t like the reminder that we are still holding a gun.
Why the 4th is more than just a party: