Alternate ways to celebrate the 4th of July

KW: As you may have guessed from my recent 4th of July poem, there is something about the 4th of July Holiday that makes me nervous. Fireworks seem all fun and pretty and stuff. Though, I think they are supposed to somehow remind us of the military power of our country, passed battles, and the rockets of war.

So, I was trying to apply a new strand of thought I had. I have been thinking about taking a ritual or structure that exists that I don’t like so much, and just turning it on its head a little to use it to advantage. So, how could people like me [Insert your own favorite cause: peace activists? progressive? proponent of nonviolence? green activist] better celebrate Independence Day and the birth of our nation?

Instead of fireworks:

What else could we send up into the sky, so that neighbors all around could see? Maybe, we could launch a peace rainbow, laser-light? Decorate the tops of the tallest trees? Release doves at twilight? (Don’t think that will sit well with animal rights activists, but I am just brainstorming here…)

Instead of politicians making political speeches:

Americans could honor our representative democracy by having elected officials do ceremonies similar to washing the citizens’ feet. For instance: Your town councilperson stands at the front of a room silently, and citizens stream by and give input; or, the local Mayor strolls around town and offers to wash your car; or, the county legislature convenes, and the citizens take turns on the dias, with the legislators and political party bosses in the seats watching a citizen discourse on reform of the government.

Instead of a cheery, somewhat military-style parade:

There is a kind of march of the volunteers. (Which, does happen at some parades, when the fire department comes out). Though, for this parade, the bulk of the groups are peace groups, social justice groups, and advocacy groups. And, individuals are encouraged to join in and carry banners with all their hopes and/or fears about the state of the nation and the state of their local community and economy. Instead of just red, white, and blue, the palette of the parade decorations is more like the wild, vibrant, and chaotic colors of nature.

Instead of march music and patriotic songs:

Well, there are probably some very beautiful songs about America that still fit in. Though, maybe we could also sing songs like “We Shall Overcome”, “This Land is Your Land” (with all the verses), and modern folk music that challenges the war. One of my favorite songs — and a favorite of my whole family — is John Philip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever“. Though, the real lyrics to it are rather militant. And, it is often used as a hokey kind of patriotism. For Stars and Stripes, I think I will envision a way to enact it that exhorts people to peace. Perhaps, it is performed by a small group of people dressed in tie-die and peace symbols, and they dedicate the song to the hope that America will forever strive to respect and nourish the rights of all within its border.

Instead of being just a holiday to relax:

People use the time off from their regular jobs, to purposefully build community, challenge injustices in our democracy, or change the chi energy around them towards a more peaceful and enlightened state. (Which, I will say, some of the usual rituals try to do at some level, especially when regular people try to lead and celebrate in their own way.)

That’s it for me this morning. Would love for other folks to add to the list of new ways to celebrate the 4th of July.

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