Independence Day: The Dance of the Vicious
The Jones’s were the family everyone aspired to be.
Their annual Jones Party was the one to be invited to and a lack of invitation meant that you sat in your living room, desperately trying to watch Downton Abbey on Netflix while hearing the music and revelry just a block away.
The Jones’s came to the neighborhood years ago as new neighbors with hopes of a bright future. After coming to the neighborhood and crashing on the couch of a family who had lived there for decades, they decided they wanted to stay. Mr. Jones first purchased the lot their home was built upon and then slowly bled them dry financially until the bank Mr. Jones owned foreclosed and evicted them. That first family never recovered after being forced to walk all the way to Florida. They didn’t even get to keep their couch.
The Jones family was a successful one. Mr. Jones was a consummate businessman, charismatic, smart with money and occasionally ruthless when dealing with his neighbors. He had a clear sense of who was welcome and Mrs. Jones made sure that those whom she included in her weekly Tupperware parties and Book Club were of the sort who elevated the cul de sac rather than lowered the property value.
One summer, they flew to Africa and brought back a bunch of foreign exchange students except that they didn’t really exchange them but bring them home to work their landscaping. They told the rest of the HOA that these children were being homeschooled and learning discipline although there were rumors that Mr. Jones was a bit brutal with his version of tough love. Soon, the students were loaned out to his neighbors to the south end of the housing development to landscape for certain likeminded homeowners. For some this was intolerable because their yards looked like shit in comparison so, after a protracted co-op battle, the students were set free but not allowed to go home. The Neighborhood watch never gave them a break and soon put a lot of them in cages.
Mr. Jones wasn’t all bad. When the German and Japanese families came to take homes by force, he rallied the entire block to prevent it from happening. Unfortunately, he took all the credit for it and the Russian family on the east end of town lost several sons in the melee (those Russians had a LOT of kids, though). That started a long, drawn out dispute and the Jones’s and Russians kept building larger and larger fences and buying bigger yard statuaries and satellite dishes to one up each other until the Russians simply ran out of money.
Jones was so thrilled with his victory that he waged similar incursions with the Korean family three houses down and the Viet Namese family whose yard looked like a jungle. He split the Koreans in half (they now live in a Duplex) but the Viet Namese were just too tenacious and so he burned their house down.
Jones’s children grew up cynical and bitter. His grandchildren became entitled or fat or angry or sexually fluid (or a combination of any three) and hated him for existing.
Yet, every year, they threw their Jones Party. Fewer and fewer people were invited but they insisted on the celebration of themselves and their values and past success.
Eventually, the homes surrounding the Jones’s were filled with people who were either not invited to the party or were so disgusted with the family that they refused to come.
Still, the party.
The United States was founded to split from a tyrannical rule of an empirialist monarchy and won its independence as the underdogs fighting a good fight for freedom. Like the Dark Knight, however, you either die a hero or live long enough to become a villain and, as she stands today, America is the one percent of the rest of the globe. Arrogant, wealthy, and slightly furious that no one seems to be on board with its continued dominance.
Celebrating America’s independence seems like a natural thing except that, in light of how much horror the country has left in its quest for dominance, the party feels a bit like dancing on the graves of those many on the shit end of the stick held by America and often used to beat them to death.
There are things for us to celebrate but perhaps we should put the party off for a few years while we get our shit together, clean up our own house, and strive to be the country we believed we could be rather than the nation we have become.