My God, I am so glad I am not the only one who hates this horrible, disgusting practice! It is ubiquitous for all sorts of occasions, happy or sad, weddings and funerals and christenings and divorces and this and that, and apparently not one person considers the consequences, or else they'd stop it. For some reason most people don't even think about where all that latex goes, or just sort of assume it dissipates into the air and disappears. If we can't see it, it can't be there, and certainly couldn't be doing any harm.
I'd like to know the stats on how often this is done every day worldwide, and how many TONS of filthy shredded latex end up casually discarded in the environment, the air and the water and the forest and city streets, along with countless masses of those nice curly lengths of ribbon that can choke magnificent marine life to death. Slowly.
Aside from all the animals it kills, balloon releases are kind of like firing tons of used condoms into the air and somehow seeing nothing wrong with the practice, even viewing it as something so beautiful and meaningful that other concerns are trivial and unimportant. Yet if you say anything about it, you get hurt or astonished looks from people, as if you've said, "I like to stomp on Easter chicks".
And just try NOT attending a balloon release in protest. Whether you explain it to people or not, it will be extremely awkward, the kind of thing that prompts a down-inflected "oh," while you honestly wonder if they think you're just an antisocial crank. "Oh come on, we know you don't like it, but they're going to do it anyway, you know? Be a good sport."
Everyone loves balloon releases, don't they? They're a way for people to express their deepest emotions. To "let go and let God". And for heaven's sake, they can't be harmful or they wouldn't sell them. (You're not one of those whackjob environmentalists, are you?) There it is right on the package: biodegradable.
Alternatives to the colorful aerial spectacle, whatever they might be, aren't given much play because nobody has really thought about it. It hasn't occurred to them they could do something else. Why should we, when we can go down to the dollar store and have them fire up the helium tank? It's what we always do, we do it every year, the kids would be disappointed if we blah blah blah, and anyway it hasn't done a bit of harm.
What's behind this bizarre and extremely selfish practice is something so naive that I can barely wrap my mind around it. People still seem to think God lives "up there", and that these overinflated multicolored condoms are somehow going to carry everyone's grief and hope and joy STRAIGHT UP TO GOD, where it will of course be dissipated into pure light by the power of divine grace. Soggy multicolored condoms raining down from the sky don't even enter the picture. So it's worth "whatever", isn't it, all that stuff you're so bothered about? It's a spiritual practice, for heaven's sake, and God wouldn't mind if we do it just this once.