Nonetheless, millions of people gather when the sun goes down to gawk at a region of low altitude, expectant of an enormous show of ostensibly innocuous firepower against the nocturnal firmament. Planets, stars, moons, meteor showers, and boreal lights are not immediately violent enough to stimulate the peculiarly human penchant for things that blast and burn in garish colors. Makes one wonder if a cosmic event would attract such an avidly dedicated response. Just imagine it.
One of the many giant asteroids that shoot past Earth at varying distances heads straight for our ball in space. Upon entering our stratosphere, it breaks into pieces, each one the size of a mountain, and catches fire. These massive piles spread apart just enough to strike the planet in different places. When they hit the surface, they explode with a force millions of times the power of the fission bomb we dropped on
How ironic that we enjoy playing in miniature with the elements of catastrophe. Apparently we are not satisfied with the disasters of wildfire, lightning strikes, war, or cosmic events. We like to blow things up for any occasion, even if it means polluting our world with noise and lethal fumes, terrifying our fellow creatures, and even hurting ourselves. How many children have lost fingers, hands, hearing, and sight because of this irrational activity disguised as merriment?
Maybe the crazy act of blowing things up and watching the explosion with glee signifies our profound suicidalism. We are the only self-destructive species. How interesting that we over-populate our planet yet simultaneously seek to eliminate ourselves. More than a celebration of life, fireworks are a flamboyant signification of our fascination with the forces that cause death. Of course fire can indirectly cause renewed life but it more often causes destruction. Setting off explosives does nothing for our quality of life but it certainly degenerates it.
When multiple bombs burst into spectral bloom over our upturned heads, we utter sounds of awe and amazement but we do not connect the fallout from those profane flowers to the unpleasant effects on our being. Particle pollutants in the air we breathe cause many adverse health conditions from eye irritation to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, as well as others of which we may not be aware, yet we cheer whenever we see a crackling cause for such toxicity burst upon the evening. Surely, we will not perish en masse from fireworks but every time we set them off we spark the fuse of our extinction, real and symbolic. Sooner or later we will perish as a species, either by our own hand or by the divine power of nature. Each time we send a rocket into the air we are signaling that complete demise. When that finally happens, it may not be the last gleaming of twilight on Earth, but one fact is certain—our flags will not be there.