Post 358.

In the spirit of being fed up with obscenely selfish, offensively short-sighted and obstinately stupid practices, words I’ll be forced to repeat over the next months, I want to know what would it take to stop the harm of fireworks and why it can’t be done in one year? Why must NGOs, from animal welfare organisations to umpteen citizen groups, have to write letters to the editor and sign petitions simply for basic consideration and protection?

It’s very simple. Fireworks, and particularly scratch bombs which are the loudest, totally illegal and potentially hazardous, are imported and sold with the effect of repeat trauma and injury to elderly, sick, the very young, domesticated animals, people with PTSD and disabilities, and a range of others.

In Santa Cruz, where I live surrounded by mountains, I’ve always cringed for the wildlife, baby animals and birds asleep in their nooks and nests and awoken with terror. And, while my dog trembled uncontrollably, I’ve wondered at being surrounded by the kind of God-fearing hypocrites who could drop bombs on the innocent and laugh callously.

If you sell fireworks, you are simply lining your pockets at others’ cost. If you don’t get why your fun should not cause others to suffer, may bandits raid your house and beat you (see metaphor extended in paragraph below) so that you can get a taste of why doing what you want because you decide you want isn’t its own justification.

There was an entire parliamentary joint select committee on this issue, with the report laid on May 25, 2018. I read all 201 pages, and it’s enough to make you laugh if you don’t first cry.

There’s a legislative framework to be reformed in all kinds of ways that will never happen and will be of limited consequence on the ground. Getting from complaint to conviction, such as in relation to the hole in Vaneisa Baksh’s roof from some unidentifiable person’s fireworks, is unrealistic, the process is circuitous and any complainant needs court clothes.

One recommendation is for police to drive about in increased numbers to prevent people from being both uncaring and irresponsible. All and sundry, from the EMA to the Fire Services must jump hoops with measuring tape and with public education messages on Beyond the Tape, to convince us to exercise concern for each other. Holistic data collection on a litany of health risks must be conducted by UWI and the San Fernando General Hospital to tell us what we already know from watching with our eyes open, and to tell us about alternatives easily found in the first ten hits on Google.

My daughter may love fireworks as all of us do, but its cowardly to put our children as an excuse for such harm. Bandits love to run up in people’s home with two guns between them, and they certainly feel a right to, but that doesn’t make it right either. Another generation has to be allowed higher standards, exemplified by us being thoughtful about those more vulnerable because of illness, age and trauma, and about the animals God supposedly gave us dominion over.

If children were presented with the stories of how animals are harmed, you may be surprised what they all agree to forgo while the entitled adults around them fight up to evolve. You may be surprised at their own commonsense suggestions, for zoning to specific public places, limited times and limited decibel ranges, and the expansion of laser displays and ‘noiseless’ fireworks.

The next time fireworks are likely to kill another kangaroo will be at public expense for Independence Day. In its celebratory display, the state can act immediately to set an example of leadership for the greater good and for another generation. It’s so easy, and everyone will learn to respect the philosophy of respecting everybody, including the other living beings around us. No legislative amendments or implementation roadmap required.

Within one year, it could be one significant change that puts us on the world map like the little Italian town which legislated the change to quieter fireworks and the communities that have switched to laser shows.

It’s simple consumer power for more considerate alternatives. It’s citizen demand for city and regional corporations to light up a sustainable approach as we mark our independence. It’s old-school public pressure on ourselves and neighbours to not be Neanderthals masquerading as hominids. I’m constantly calling for the government to do better, and it can, but this time, plainly, it’s also on us.