If common sense is deployed on July 4, the traditional shrieking, spinning, flaming festivities of shooting of fireworks fails to pose much of a threat.

Of course, that's a big "if." Every day our news pages are filled with folks showing a painful lack of common sense. Given the heightened potential for idiocy on the Fourth, we can readily expect problems.

That being said, I'm reminded of the old George Carlin shtick about rules. He once questioned the rule banning singing at the table. "One guy with a bad voice

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5*@ it up for all of us."

The same is true for fireworks. Sure on occasion someone may burn their hand, or an errant firework will start a quick flare-up. But fireworks are a fixture of the Fourth (not to mention countless holidays from around the world throughout the calendar year). Most of us enjoyed a time gathered with friends, watching the quick little bursts of noise, smoke and color. Most of us have waved a sparkler or two and oohed and aahed.

Our need in recent times to overly regulate against those lacking common sense is costing us the chance to simply enjoy life a bit. Life in a liability-driven world is sucking out spontaneity and perhaps even a bit of risk. Yes, not lighting something on fire is going to always be safer than doing so. But so is never flying in, or jumping out of, an airplane, never going bungee jumping, never climbing a tree, never swinging upside down from the monkey bars or never going into a bar for that matter.

Each year my son looks forward to buying fireworks. Each year I think, sheesh, wouldn't it be easier to just not do it. But he's relentless, so in the end I cave, spend the $40 or so and just as darkness descends, head out to the street to start lighting the things off. My wife sits nervously on our deck above the street. We grab a bucket of water and a hose and proceed to light off the little buggers. And I end up having a good time with my son. My wife enjoys it, nervously. Probably just like wives have done for years and years on the Fourth of July.

Here's to America. And here's to common sense. May we all exhibit some and allow this simple tradition to continue.