COLUMN: Hedonism America: Independence Day indulgences?
Happy 4th of July!
What does Independence Day mean to you?
Is this a time of solemn reflection on our past, present and future — or a time to indulge in food, drink and fireworks? As you know from Monday’s post, I created a bit of a dilemma when I purchased $100 of “really good” fireworks. Later in today’s post, I’ll tell you what I decided to do.
Even if we focus on food and fireworks, we still participate in a national ritual. By pausing to celebrate Independence Day, we are — for a moment — united in a national celebration with a long tradition. Those symbolic rituals form some of the cultural glue that binds together a diverse nation. It can’t help but remind us of the hopes and dangers that were present in 1776 — and, in different form, are present today.
Is America today the last best hope for mankind? About four in 10 (43 percent) Americans say yes, according to a new poll by Rasmussen Reports. In May 2010, a majority of Americans (51 percent) felt the same way.
Now to the fireworks. I fretted on Monday that my purchase of $100 worth of newly-legalized aerial fireworks was an overindulgence that might be spoiling my 10-year-old son. I’ve decided to follow the good advice proffered by OurValues readers. Have fun, invite the neighbors, and be safe.
In fact, we have the perfect opportunity. We’ll be joining our neighbors in a holiday fete in the cul-de-sac down the street, sponsored by our local homeowners association. The association is a quirky one-purpose organization. It’s sole purpose is to maintain the neighborhood’s small water-retention area. The informal purpose is an excuse for food, drink, and now — fireworks.
How do you celebrate the 4th of July?
Is it another excuse for overindulgence?
Or a time to reflect on the nation?
Dr. Wayne E. Baker is a sociologist on the faculty of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Baker blogs daily at Our Values and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook.