Looking for the Best on July 4th by Marjorie Arons-Barron

Politics isn’t everything. On a holiday like July 4th, celebrating our nation’s independence and its brilliant founding documents, it is tempting to recount the myriad ways that our President has trampled on the promises made therein. Unsparingly, he sucks the joy out of our lives, most recently yesterday at Mt. Rushmore standing before the greats of our heritage giving us fireworks and fascism rather than fireside chats and federalism. Today is a day to appreciate the recently mauled Founding promises of balance of powers, equal justice under the law, a constrained executive, an independent judiciary.  As philosopher and longshoreman Eric Hoffer wrote, “The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.”

So today we feel blessed for pleasures that are not the stuff of headlines. I invite you join me in celebrating everyday splendors. I was thinking about the patriotic colors of my garden, the red of the roses and dahlias, the white of the daisies and the blue of my glorious hydrangeas. Sadly, my palette went awry just hours ago when deer, in a single night, devoured my entire rose garden.  I must fix my gaze elsewhere. First World problem!

Wonderful things persist around us, things and people who contribute to our community. One local example: Waban Common.    Less than half a mile from our house, a group of residents of the Waban section of Newton decided to create a new green space out of two ugly traffic  islands that, in addition to being an eyesore, were hazardous to navigate. They succeeded, and the result is a new oasis for everyone in the community.

The new park was originally conceived by my husband to memorialize the late State Representative  David Mofenson, a local politician with a passion for the underdog who died too young nearly five years ago. But, while he touched many as lawmaker, attorney, election commissioner, amateur historian, baseball aficionado, stamp collector, loving husband and neighbor, by the time the small park was to be created, most who knew him had moved away. So local activists, who did the hard work bringing this charming green space to life, decided to name the new park “Waban Common,” and a bench will bear Mofenson’s name.

The beauty was in the landscaping but also in the coming together of neighbors, under the city’s Adopt-a-Space program,  to raise money from individuals and local businesses, envisioning a design, engaging everyone from local Boy Scouts group to to the Parks and Recreation Department to create a green haven now being enjoyed for its first season. During the pandemic, it has been a joy to watch people discovering the Common as an oasis for passive pleasure, with social distancing. It’s a destination for this Independence Day’s walk.

Another moment of joy was last night’s viewing of Hamilton, forced by COVID-19 theater closings to be available for home viewing.  The brilliance of the writing and talent, and its largely attentive adherence to Ron Chernow’s stellar Hamilton book, gave unspeakable pleasure, despite the many hours it took my husband to purchase a Roku and set it up so we could stream it on our television.  Every hour of struggle (again, First World problem) was worth it to be able to experience this gem.

Today, after days of grim wet weather, the sky is blue, the sun is out, and I will not turn on the news, cable or otherwise.  I won’t use the “on” button until eight p.m. this evening’s  Boston Pops July 4th concert, which cleverly edits its “best of” with the musicians, performers and fireworks that were the splashes of past celebrations.  Happy Birthday, America, and may the promises of the past, however unrealized, become our fulfilled realities starting January 20, 2021. Until then, let’s roll up our sleeves and make sure that renewal does not elude us on November 3.