Saturday, July 5, 2008

There Were Bombs Over Tucson Today

Today was special. At least, when I woke up this morning (or rather, this evening), I sensed that today was a special day. Was it because I had spent the second night in my new place, and now, having gotten most of the work done on the apartment, I may now relax and prepare for my pseudo-housewarming tomorrow? Or perhaps it’s a special day because the monsoon which has been inching its way in our direction for the last few days has finally caught up with us, hence giving me that little burst of creative inspiration which always comes with such weather. Or maybe, I’m just happy to be alive, knowing my friend’s girlfriend just suffered a heart attack.

Actually, I’m told that this day is a special day because 232 years ago, our ancestors said fuck you to a greedy tyrant. That was when, by the good graces of our Lord, our brave men fought against the oppression of insatiable bankers and gluttonous monarchs on the other side of the Atlantic. God bless America.

Well, they did fight a good fight, anyway, and win they did. A whole lot of blood and tears went into that revolution, which was followed by a desperate attempt to learn from past mistakes by creating a system of government that was most fair and reasonable to all who were willing to play ball and make sacrifices. It wasn’t easy then, and it’s not easy now, but at least they understood what was at stake.

Now, in the 21st century, I ride my bike to work as the storm clouds continue to hover over Tucson. It’s nighttime, but the utter lack of stars in the sky is somewhat ominous. God bless America? Well, as long as you don’t count Tucson this year.

There are still, however, hundreds of fireworks going off all over the city. All around, people are on rooftops and parking garages watching in awe at the light show. It’s probably the most exciting thing they will see or do all month, and so they put all of their eggs in this basket. Lucky for them, they probably won’t disappoint themselves.

It does say something about how far we’ve come in ten generations that the most iconized Fourth of July tradition is still the very expensive re-creation of wartime explosives going off – as entertainment. As if the most fun they had during the revolution was blowing shit up.

Granted, traditions exist for the purpose of reminding us of things we’ll eventually forget; namely, “that one time that awesome thing happened to those probably-cool people.” Whether it’s the Super Bowl party you have every year or whatever, it’s still that one time we had that awesome party. Let’s not forget that. Great. Sign me up for two. But what does it say about us that we need these things to progress? How are we to become better people if all we do is reminisce? Not that nostalgia is bad, but when it’s all we are, how can we possibly move forward? And if we pin all that we are to a day, like we pin all that we are to a book or to a person or to anything, then that thing rules over us. It becomes sacred, and we become submissives to it. (god bless america)

And so this day will pass for me like another rung in life’s ladder. I know in my heart what made America great over two centuries ago. It wasn’t a perfect system then, but it was the best they could come up with. And it was pretty good. I’m the last person to talk it up nowadays, of course, but I don’t passively wave a 99 cent flag and think that makes me a patriot, either. I still believe in what makes America great, even if it is dying. I don’t need sparklers and pinwheels to remind me. In fact, they only remind me of how truly fucked we are.

As planned, I’ll have my friends over tomorrow evening. It’s not a birthday party for my friend who’s turning 34, or a Fourth of July BBQ, or even a housewarming. It’s just a party. A gathering of friends and acquaintances, which doesn’t need a reason at all. It’s more genuine if there’s no reason anyway. I shouldn’t need an event centuries ago to tell me if I should have one or not. And I’m sure God would agree.

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