We just returned from taking the children out trick or treating. As I have just finished inspecting my son the pirate’s booty I wanted to riff off of the comments David made about Halloween at Treppenwitz.
In it David writes about a loss of innocence that accompanied the holiday as more and more parents inspected the loot from the night’s haul as well as that more children were chaperoned by their parents.
It made me think about things and what has happened and I have a couple of thoughts to share about whether we have lost our innocence. I think that nostalgia always makes us wax sentimental about the past. Sometimes this leads to our viewing things through rose-colored glasses and sometimes it is accurate.
In effect I think what happens here is that I am going to straddle the fence somewhat. I think that the monsters of the night have always been here. If you read through old newspaper clippings you find horror stories of children who were raped and murdered, same as today. Psychotic behavior is not a new phenomena, it has always been there.
The difference is that we have instant information available to us, a media glut. As I write this post I know that there are people on my blog from across the US and the world. In seconds what I write here is read by people in Israel, Singapore, India, Chile and Australia. In theory I could create a media “windstorm” that sweeps the globe in as little as moments.
Which is just a verbose way of saying that with the access we have to information I think that it can make it appear that there are more incidents than there were in the past. Obviously without data it is impossible to say with any certainty.
But like any parent I worry about my children and when in doubt I err on the side of safety, so I make sure that I am along for the ride and that no candy is eaten without my approval. Not to mention the “abba tax” which mandates that I receive payment in Three Musketeers, Candy Corn and Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.
As I sit here with a mouthful of chocolate I am thankful for Halloween for the lessons it offers my children.
The first point is a simple lesson about when “enough is enough.” How much candy do you really need? Why is it important to share with your little sister and parents/friends.
It is a moral imperative to teach your children about safety in the home, school and the streets. Halloween gives us an easy introduction to discussing the issues that relate to safety and why it is important for our children to be informed.
My interest in community was actually inspired by a drash given by Rabbi Ed Feinstein about Halloween. In it he says
“But something remarkable happens on Halloween, something I want my kids to see: On Halloween, we open our homes to one another. On Halloween, we come out from behind solid-core doors and dead-bolts locks and electronic burglar alarms. The doorbell is met, not with a gruff “Whose there?” and a suspicious eye in the peep-hole, but with a smile and sweets. On Halloween, and only on Halloween, we pretend we are a neighborhood again…families from disparate background who share common civic values, making life together in a common space. If only once a year, I want my kids to see what it’s like when fear subsides, and people trust one another enough to open their doors.”
That resonated with me, the opportunity to show the children what their neighbors look like without the gates and deadbolts, the opportunity to show them that they belong to multiple communities and that there are real people that are just like them living inside. It is chance to show them a glimpse of what life could be like if we all made just a few changes in how we live and how we approach daily life.
And now it is time to partake of the benefits of the tax and a good cup of coffee.