But we outsmarted them. On Saturday night a bunch of us snuck out to a large open park behind a friend’s suburban home. Every year, it seems, a neighbor transports a carload of skyrockets across state lines to provide the neighborhood with a proper July 4th. A full moon was rising over the trees when the first roman candles burst into the night. A small band of furtive pyrotechnicians scrambled back and forth to position and ignite each round of rockets. The neighborhood was most appreciative, oohing and ahhing and singing patriotic songs.
Then the rockets stopped. A little boy ran over to report that the police had arrived. It was cordial encounter, however, and the lawmen informed the lawbreakers that those kinds of incendiaries were not allowed in suburbia. Then they obligingly drove off, and, after a respectful pause, the magnificent bursts of glowing magnesium resumed above our heads.
Now wasn’t that a wonderful balance of law and freedom? America’s social order is based on checks and balances not only between the three branches of government, but also between federal government and local initiative, between civil laws and individual rights.
Human laws are generally good (provided they don’t violate divine laws), but they must be understood in the light of greater goods. It’s good to protect the neighborhood from a possible misfired skyrocket, but it’s a greater good to have the neighborhood come together to celebrate the birth of their fatherland. Yes, it's possible that a skyrocket could set a house on fire, but in case you haven’t noticed, the whole country is on fire. Strong local communities can put those fires out, and should be trusted to do so. Allowing neighbors to celebrate Independence Day under the heavens is healthier in the long run than forcing them to stay indoors, isolated from each other. Could someone possibly get sick from CO19 at a fireworks display? Yes, but the risk of some people catching the virus is far less harmful than the risk of social chaos brought on by social isolation. We are not machines to be kept running efficiently, and we are not animals to be kept in cages. We are human beings who need more than food and water and physical health. We have relational and spiritual needs that have been increasingly neglected. The government's approval of BLM mass gatherings demonstrates that it does understand those needs, although communal celebrations of our nation's birth are far healthier than angry protests (a lot less shouting and spitting going on).
Thanks be to God that the local police respected our intelligence on Saturday night. They trusted us, as fellow citizens, to celebrate the birth of our nation in a manner that would serve the greater good.