Wednesday, July 11, 2007

the cost of entertainment...

I have a hard time enjoying fireworks, and this just began a few years ago for me. I think they're beautiful, and they're such a uniting way to celebrate our country's independence for the 4th, but something in me has had a hard time fully enjoying their beauty. I grew up in the big metropolis of Streator, IL, and we have always had great fireworks. In fact, just in case you didn't already know, Streator is ranked in the top 5 of the best fireworks displays in the state of Illinois. We're right up there in battle with Peoria, and I believe Chicago may be the only other city that has us all beat. (Though Chicago's fireworks on the 4th @ the Taste were lame...I'm hoping their display on the 3rd was better...otherwise I'd say Streator's got them beat for sure!) We don't have much else to boast about, so our fireworks have become our claim to fame. They really are very good.

Just a few years ago I realized how very expensive fireworks are. I must have read an article in the Streator Times-Press about how much they cost a long time ago when it was around $10,000, and now Streator's display averages around $35,000 in cost. This money is raised by donations, raffles, 50-50 drawings, etc. It's amazing to see a community donate so much money to something like this, and it baffles me.

People are willing to give their money to something that lasts for about 30 minutes and it becomes a city-wide, regionally-acclaimed and highly attended event. Over the past few years I've struggled with wondering why people donate to such a thing and not to something that could actually make a difference in the lives of people. Fireworks are beautiful, but they don't do much other than provide entertainment. I wish our city could forego fireworks for even one year and donate the $35,000 to people who actually need it in countries that may not be so blessed with freedom and independence. Maybe that's just wishful thinking...

But this year I got to thinking as we watched the fireworks that a mere $35,000 is nothing in comparison to the money we spend on other forms of entertainment. I can't blame Streator or other cities for spending money on that when millions and billions of dollars go into making movies and TV shows for our entertainment as well. If, instead of giving up fireworks, someone would give up the money it takes to make a big name film or the ridiculous money spent on stupid movies made like Beer Fest or Snakes on a Plane or Knocked Up or any movie Eddie Murphy or the Wayans brothers have ever made trying to dress up like a fat black lady, then maybe...just maybe we could make a dent in the needs of the world.

I just have a dream for America that is different than being known for our freedom and our rights and independence. I wish we would be known for being people of compassion and people that care about the countries of the world that are not like our own. I wish people were more conscious of what they spend their money on. I'm as guilty as the next person, and entertainment is a completely valid thing that God has given us to enjoy. Afterall, He's the one who has given people the ability to create and imagine and provide entertainment.

Now realizing that the costs of fireworks are nothing in comparison to what we spend gobs of money on every single day, I think I'll be able to enjoy them from now on. At least I hope I can, because I think it's alright to be thankful for and celebrate what we have. I just hope we can extend that to the world.

And all of these thoughts sparked just from a few fireworks...
Imagine what a little change could do.

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