It’s the day before the Chicago Air & Water Show.
I have had mixed feelings about this weekend since I first moved here.
It’s similar to the Fourth of July. While I realize the symbolism of fireworks, and I love to watch a great fireworks display, there are a couple nights in a row that many of our neighbors blow off fireworks all around our apartment. There’s a 365-degree fireworks display that makes war zones seem safe.
Of course that’s a hyperbole. I’m quite sure war zones are more dangerous.
But for two nights in July and two days in August for the Air & Water Show, Chicago is a war zone.
The jets during A&W are incredibly loud. And the multiple jet flybys make deaf people’s sphincter pucker.
The homage that these brilliant displays of technological and engineering genius pay to war bothers me.
Maybe the reminder that so many men and women have died to start and protect this country is too much for a small mind like mine. Maybe I don’t have an open mind to war. What is it about me that second guesses everything or questions the necessity of events or things (like religion) that people swear allegiance to.
Growing up, I was like many American boys. I played war. I loved guns. I adored airplanes and fast (loud) cars. With my friends, we wrestled and pretended to know martial arts.
I knew at an early age, though, that I would never go in the military. When I was in France back in college, I learned that military service is mandatory for every French young man. That idea frightened me, and I was reminded how grateful I was to live in the good ol’ U.S. of A.
While I love to photograph the aerobatics and admire the engineering of the airplanes and fighter jets, they scare me all the same.
Is this cognitive dissonance?
I hate war but love the war machine? I love explosions, but hate war explosions?
I love the sinner but hate the sin?
Perhaps an over-active imagination is to blame. I can’t ride down the road in our car without visualizing an accident. I see myself through a windshield and scattered across asphalt more often than I’d care to admit. I often dream about dying or being killed. When I look over our deck on the third floor of our building, I envision falling.
When I see the fighter planes, I visualize them laying down stream of machine gun fire followed by letting go a few missiles straight for my face. I see the planes hitting the twin towers again. Or in my case, I see them hitting the Hancock building or the former Sears Tower now Willis Tower. I see them falling to the ground and the debris rising.
I hate violence.