My neighborhood loves fireworks. The 4th of July fireworks start several days before the 4th, and last until several days after the 4th. The 4th of July in 2020 was especially noisy with fireworks lasting several hours. New Year’s Eve 2020 fireworks started well before midnight and lasted until 2 am. When we walked through our neighborhood on New Year’s Day we saw firework debris everywhere. I was angry and frustrated – if you are going to set off the fireworks, you should clean up after the celebration.
I expressed this in a post on our neighborhood Facebook page. I asked that the people setting off the fireworks clean up the debris. I don’t like fireworks, and neither do my three cats. I wrote what I thought was a tactful reasonable request to clean up after the fireworks. The responses all had the same theme: If you don’t like fireworks, move out of the neighborhood. You have no business telling people what they should or should not do. Fireworks are one of the things that bring our neighborhood together.
I don’t agree with these statements. I am not planning on moving because of fireworks. I do have the right as a resident to ask people to clean up the fireworks debris. I don’t think fireworks bring our neighborhood together, I think there are other safer ways of doing this. Obviously, some of my neighbors disagree. I like my neighborhood and would like to work together towards a solution. But some of my neighbors tuned me out and didn’t work towards common ground. And I realize that social media is not the best setting for working together sometimes.
Living in community is important to think about during these pandemic times. There are many around us who are hurting and vulnerable, and we can be partners in making connections. Living in community is more than following some common rules created by an HOA, it is living and functioning as a cooperative group. This is more than individuals dwelling in the same geography, it is growing and sustaining and protecting the well being of all. My neighborhood has not achieved this ideal, but my continuing hope is we can work together towards it.
How do we learn to live together? How do we learn to cooperate? How do we learn to care for each other? Our worship, outreach, learning, and fellowship together (even online) calls us into community. We are more than a collection of individuals; God works through each one of us to build something greater. It is not easy being in community, even with people we may agree with most of the time. It is hard when people disagree and may have viewpoints different than our own. The person we disagree with is a beloved child of God. I don’t know who said the quote above, but I will keep working towards playing in the sandbox together.
Lord, lead us into community. Through the power of your love, help us care about those around us and see everyone as your beloved child. May our disagreements be places of openness and discussion, rather than division and hate. Help us reach out to the lonely and isolated and make new connections. And may these connections bring healing to our world. Amen.