I love Guy Fawkes. I love watching the joy crackers bring my kids. Once a year I love getting together with friends and family and letting a few off in my yard. Some of you will hate me for that.
This year the anti-fireworks people have been louder than ever, Not as loud as The WTF (the best work of the season) but pretty loud. Yet there are a lot of us fans out there too.
The anti-banger lobby express themselves through submissions. The rest of us express ourselves with flaming balls.
When I look out over Auckland each November 5th at the thousands of backyards blasting their works into the air, I feel the community spirit deeply. There's something special going on. A bunch of people doing the same thing at the same time. It's beautiful.
Obviously it's not great when someone on your street sets off a Catherine wheel at 1am.
But as Alain De Botton said while explaining the philosophy of Roman stoic Seneca: "We should not import into scenarios where they don't belong pessimistic interpretations of others' motives. Thereafter, noise will never be pleasant, but it will not have to make us furious."
It's easier to sleep when you accept the banging is not an attack on you.
Those explosions are just the sounds of your fellow humans enjoying themselves. Don't take it personally.
Guy Fawkes has passed for the year but with so much negativity in the media and with councils and other affected groups actively working throughout the year to limit our involvement, I wanted to share the other point of view.
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That of those of us who grew up loving the bangers in their yards. Who want to continue sharing the good times with their families and friends at their own houses. The people who see Guy Fawkes as a fun, positive thing.
You may not care about the 414-year-old origins of the tradition. But the fact it has lasted so long means something.
People who want to limit Guy Fawkes to public displays should contemplate that history. Community rituals like this don't pop up every day.
I have no doubt anti-fireworks people are well-meaning. It's hard to win against people arguing from the safety perspective. They list the risks. Then position any other opinion as pro-burnt hands, fires and damaged eyeballs.
But it's not that black and white. There is no doubt there is a danger involved in private use fireworks. But as with so many things, it's the danger that makes it exciting. It's the danger that teaches lessons.
Do we really want a zero-risk society? We won't get one even if we want one. Nature will get you. No matter what. Surely it's better children get used to dealing with danger in their own backyard with mum and dad. The lessons learned in a home fireworks session are clear, powerful and transferable. Primarily the lesson to be careful and sensible around dangerous things.
But what of the animals? That's a complex issue too. I love my dog Colin. I don't want to cause him any harm.
But if flashing lights and loud noises are a problem for our furry friends we're going to have to ban thunderstorms too. They come around a lot more frequently than Guy Fawkes.
Animals are going to be scared from time to time. That's the universe we live in.
I care about our species too. The joy of a human child. The shared experience with family and friends. One of the few remaining traditions that bring us sapiens together. That's some of the good stuff fireworks do. I think the benefits outweigh frightened pets. Colin will get over it.
Some people do stupid things with fireworks. A friend of mine lost much of his vision in one eye thanks to a moronic friend. But as he points out, that was a moronic friend problem, not a firework problem. A dad in his own backyard, safely letting off bangers for the enjoyment of his children is not responsible for the stupid actions of others. He should not be punished for them. Any more then a person cutting carrots for dinner is responsible for a street stabbing.
Fireworks have brought a lot of happiness to New Zealanders over the years. Taught our kids real lessons. They bring people together face to face. That's something we need in these times of separated digital lives.
I believe taking private use fireworks away would be another step in the current coddling process we are being subjected to. Moving us further from what's real. Relegating us to bystanders at safety-approved public displays. Sending a message to New Zealanders from a young age that everyday people are not to be trusted. That we can't look after ourselves.
If backyard fireworks go, a little bit of joy, wonder and competence will leave with them. Guy Fawkes has been around a long time. When they take these things away they never give them back.