I really love the fourth of July. It has always been a fun holiday for me. When I was a kid we would decorate our bikes with streamers and bells and in the morning on the fourth, we would ride through the town in a parade with clowns, firemen and retired military while our families and friends cheered and clapped for us on the sidewalks. After the parade we’d go to a friend’s house for a cookout. We’d run in the sprinklers, eat fresh corn on the cob with butter dripping down our chins and laugh till our cheeks hurt. Even a little rain couldn’t spoil our fun. By dusk we’d drive to the golf course or the river to stake a spot to watch the fireworks. Adrenaline and excitement for fireworks would keep us awake despite the long, hot day. It was a great time. These are the memories I have of fourth of July.
Now, these simple pleasures are so complicated for me. I see corn and I think of GMO’s and massive food industry putting corn syrup in a multitude of foods. I go outside with my family in sun and I think of how difficult it is to find a sunscreen that will not harm them more than the rays from the sun. At dusk, when the bugs come out, I hope that the all natural bug spray that I’ve mixed at home will keep them comfortable and free from bug bites. I am frustrated that there aren’t safe alternatives in bug sprays available in stores.
And when the music plays, and when we talk about freedom and liberty, I wonder why it’s so hard to get legislation passed to make sure that foods are properly labeled so that we have the freedom to choose what we put in our bodies. And why is it so hard to get companies to remove toxic chemicals from our personal care products? This is something they already do in other countries, so why won’t they do it for us here in the “land of the free?”
The face of cancer is no longer a wrinkled grandparent who has lived a full life, whose death is unjust because it is painful and unnatural. The face of cancer is now a mother with three kids in elementary school, a 6th grader with braces, a father with 2 boys in high school. The face of cancer is too young, too rampant and too cruel to those who have not yet lived, or who are in the middle and the highlight of their living. And why are we not livid?
I love this country, but I no longer feel like I live in the land of the free. I feel like we are living in the land of the secretive. The land of the “put it off for later.” The land of the “someone else’s problem.”
But, the truth is, this still is the land of the free, which is why I am free to write this post and tell you that the choices you make every day add up. Let them add up to a long life filled with vibrant family memories. Don’t let them add up to a bunch of toxins that you have put off for later, only to find that later comes far sooner than you would ever expect or want.