Here are some of my photos from the 4th of July in Portland, Oregon. I was hoping to show a different side of the 4th, maybe a more mundane, real life version of what that day is for so many people…just another day, with some fireworks in the distance. Not to say that it’s not a meaningful day for many people, but it has turned into a spectacle of opulence and over-indulgence. For many of us, watching firework displays that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars is a slap in the face while our communities are being gutted of funding and resources, our friends are unemployed and the future looks bleak.
I love where I live as it is incredibly beautiful and I am surrounded by amazing people, but I also believe our country has lost its way and I’m not sure how much I feel like putting on a show of celebration while all around me the walls of our society are crumbling.
In many ways these fireworks reminded me of growth; you can’t grow forever, if you do you will explode. Maybe that is a better metaphor for our 4th of July celebrations. A reminder to ourselves that we are on a quick path to being nothing more than smoke in the aftermath of a large explosion. Maybe a brilliant one, but one that will leave us in ashes. We can’t grow forever and living in a world where our economic systems are based entirely on growth will lead to nothing but future misery.
But, let’s take a moment to imagine another world. A world where sharing, caring and the protection of our planet is more important than gaining wealth and exploiting resources for personal (and corporate) gain. I hope to someday live in a world where I feel excited to celebrate the accomplishments and successes of my country, but for now I will work to help it not explode and hopefully be able to offer a few better ideas for how to live along the way.