Reader opinion by Josette Brose-Eichar —
Many years ago when my niece and nephew were small children, my mom and dad were pressing my sister, Eileen to have them baptized in the Catholic Church. Eileen told them absolutely not. My mom got some holy water and did it herself and told me not to tell Eileen. Mom stewed over this for the next few years and kept telling me it was most likely not enough and worried their souls would not be saved. My sister is an agnostic, as am I. She believed and still does that it is how you conduct yourself on earth is all that really matters. She let my mom know that the kids would figure their own beliefs out and she was not going to indoctrinate them into any religion. As the kids got a bit older my mom and dad again starting to pressure Eileen about the kids and the Catholic Church. They asked Eileen how would they know right from wrong or have a moral base without religion. Her answer was this, “I have taught them to think before they speak or act. To ask themselves, how would you feel if someone said or did this to you? If it will hurt you then it will hurt them, so just don’t do it.” She then told my mom and dad she did not want to discuss this again. The kids are now in their 30’s and are thoughtful, intelligent, and socially conscious young people.
I tell this story because it came back to me after reading a recent thread on Nextdoor about illegal fireworks and shooting guns off on New Year’s Eve. The original poster wanted people to know that these activities were illegal and harmful. People could get injured or killed, people lost sleep out of fear, and animals were greatly impacted, especially dogs. The comments that followed made me realize that the divide in our community and our country is not really political. It is more of a split on what we feel is right and wrong as it relates to how we impact others. No one is perfect, but it has always been my belief to do as little harm as possible to others, animals and our planet. If you follow my sister’s simple rule, it will serve you in most situations.
Here is my comment from the Nextdoor thread: This thread is really enlightening. It throws light on the divide here in Sonoma and every place else. Some believe we should think before we act, think how what we do will impact others. Gunfire and fireworks terrorize people and animals. So, it is not something I would do for those reasons. When we have the fireworks show in town, at least people know when it starts and ends and can be prepared for it for themselves and their animals. Then on the other side of the divide, are those that feel they can do whatever they want and not worry about how it impacts anyone else.
In the thread, many people felt the same way as I do, and stated so. Then there is the group that really thinks there is nothing wrong with shooting off fireworks or your gun, as it lets them blow off steam after a bad year or it is their personal freedom to do so and the rest of us, as one writer stated, “can just suck it up and plug our ears”. One even went so far as to inform us how to safely shoot one’s gun off in the proper manner. My stepdaughter lives in West Sacramento, and for some reason people in her neighborhood love to shoot fireworks off, and not just on 4th of July or New Year’s Eve. One of her dogs is totally traumatized. He gets in the bathtub and shakes and cries until it is over. Short of selling her house and moving there is nothing she can do. In short, she is “sucking it up”.
In reading the comments by those that feel it their right to set off fireworks or shoot a gun, I see that they believe this is somehow a personal freedom that they should be granted and not criticized for. It is our fault that we are so sensitive and that laws to prohibit these activities are corrupt, because our entire government is corrupt. Does any of this reasoning sound familiar to you? This thread pointed out that it is not about political views, it is about the kind of person you are. Will you or will you not harm others? If you want to let off steam or let loose and not impact others here are a few suggestions: get a punching bag, practice martial arts and break a few boards, get a soundproof room and scream your head off. Or if you just need to chill out, go and buy some weed or edibles from a dispensary, or have a couple of beers while lounging on your sofa. Some people also use intense forms of exercising, like running. Exercise blows off steam while improving your health, so it is really a win-win. All of these activities are just for you and they impact no one else. Think about it.
Josette Brose-Eichar lives in the Springs.