It’s a simple truth of life: we need to breathe.

Sure, we wear masks when we go outside because of a deadly virus that isn’t our fault. Does that mean we should wear them at home too, when we don’t have to? Around this time every single year, more than 600,000 people die because of something we can control. Pollution. What’s the biggest cause of pollution these days? Burning firecrackers. They’re fun. They’re pretty. They’re poison.

For hundreds of years, people have been burning crackers on Diwali. They didn’t know that for those few moments of forbidden pressure, they’re slowly killing themselves. But we know! Then why do we still keep doing this? Why are we trying to lead to our own extinction? Yes, it’s our tradition, and yes, we’ve been doing this for years, but times change. We consider ourselves a superior race. We’re going modern, what with our conversations, our music, our food. If we’re moving on from wearing traditional clothes, why can’t we move on from this, too? Adults are always talking about business transactions and politics to support the next generation. Well, there will be no generation to support if we all die because of lack of fresh air.

We need to breathe.

When we burn crackers, we’re releasing toxins into the air. We breathe this air. Smoking is bad for our lungs, right? I’m sure many people have decided they are never going to smoke. Well, tough luck with that. Because of crackers, the air is nothing but smoke. We’re all smoking 24/7, and we have a choice. How long does a firecracker light up for? A few seconds. Not even enough to take a picture. Why are we killing the people we love, who are always there for us, for things that are hardly with us for 10 seconds?

Now, be honest with yourselves: have you ever felt scared while lighting a cracker? Of course you have. They’re toxic fire, and fire burns. When it doesn’t touch us, its smoke does and that burns us from the inside. We think we’re too young to die, but we are not. People our age die every day because of us. We can change that, but we don’t. Why? It’s not just their lives we’re ending, it’s ours, too.

We need to breathe.

Don’t burn crackers this Diwali. Just try it out. It’s time for a change. Go ahead and light diyas: they don’t release pollutants, and they’re pretty, too. You can still celebrate, just don’t kill people to do it.

In the end, it’s up to you, but remember: your few seconds of fun are ruining millions of lives. Ask yourself, is that what you really want? Is it really worth it?

Because, like it or not, we need to breathe.

This picture was taken on 27th October, 2020, in Noida, India. You can barely see the road, and you can’t see stars or the moon at all.