This Friday will mark what I now think of as the Semi-Annual Matthew 22:39 Challenge, where God uses the 4th of July and New Year’s Eve to test my ability to follow through on that whole “love your neighbor” thing by surrounding me with people who set off fireworks until the wee hours of the night. Yes, I live in a neighborhood where this is illegal. I’ve even tried to start the rumor that it’s now punishable by death (hmm…if I’m ever President…), yet the people around here seem to see that “law” as more of a “party-pooping suggestion.”
The world and I just can’t seem to get on the same page about fireworks.
I realize that this is probably a defect with my personality. I am missing the gene that makes any activities that involve leaving the house enjoyable: camping, outdoor sports, frolicking at the beach, standing in the middle of the street and setting off fireworks — these things are all mysteries to me. On the plus side, if I were to be an anthropologist I wouldn’t even have to travel anywhere. I could just wait until Friday, get out a notebook, and start documenting my observations:
The group includes men, women and children. They have willingly chosen to congregate outside despite the fact that their dwellings have air conditioners. They do not seem to notice the heat, the humidity, the mosquitoes, or the honking cars that try to maneuver around their location in the middle of the street. All the men are holding tall brown bottles that contain a liquid that seems to be a sacred component of this ritual. It is customary for participants to feign awe and surprise, often including spontaneous exclamations of “Yee-HAW!” or “There ya go!”, at the popping noise that each of their fire sticks makes, despite the fact that the previous hundred did the exact same thing.
Speaking of which, I have considered holding a neighborhood-wide demonstration on Thursday in which I gather everyone and ignite one blackcat and one bottle rocket and assure them that the five hundred that they plan to set off on Friday will do the EXACT same thing. But, alas, I don’t think it would work. My neighbors seem to see in fireworks something I do not. My take is this:
But evidently the world and I do not have the same cost/benefit analysis when it comes to fireworks.
I know, I am not only a nerd, but a Scrooge. I all but say, “Bah, humbug!” as I yank the curtains shut and walk around the house muttering about the cheer of my merrymaking neighbors outside.
I once suggested back on an old blog that I would take my neighbors’ unspoken rule that “it is acceptable to celebrate certain holidays with flashing lights and loud noises well into the middle of the night” by choosing my own holidays to set off my car alarm around 3:00am and see how much they enjoyed the festivities.
But perhaps, this year, I will turn to prayer instead. Maybe I will use my hours of comforting my children in the middle of the night as an opportunity to read some Scripture…Though I can’t promise that I won’t be secretly fantasizing about coming across a long-hidden secret message in one of Paul’s letters, going down in biblical scholarship history for discovering the “fireworks exception” to the command to love your neighbor.