I’ve long been disturbed by Halloween, and here we are again. Money spent on lights, plastic skeletons, bones and headstones to frighten small, costumed children eager to stuff themselves with sugar. Perhaps a cynical view of the holiday, but one that arises as I walk in my neighborhood during this season.
If the message were, “We’re dying here, death is real, we must do all we can to save this precious planet on which we depend for life.” Then I might get behind it. If we put out bowls of autumn fruit, an offering of the harvest which the season actually celebrates. Then I might get behind it. If we stopped training children to use sugar to dull fear trumped up by bones, ghouls and skeletons looming at them out of the darkness. Then I might get behind it. If we stopped to consider what else might be done with money spent on decorations, wigs and empty calories. Then I might get behind it.
I haven’t participated in the ritual for many years. It’s easy to avoid the flow of children at our house, situated on a hill with no street lights and down a flight of wooden steps. But this year I am tempted. I would put out the scariest thing I can imagine: large white letters on a black background, red Christmas lights illuminating the words, CLIMATE CHANGE! Alongside the sign a bowl of crisp apples with an invitation to take one if you’re hungry, give it to someone who is if you’re not. And a parting message, placed so visitors see it as they’re leaving, “Join hands against the darkness.”
Of course, all this is impossible in the year of our frustrated Lord, 2020. We can’t hold hands, we can’t give out apples, fear having long convinced us a potential razorblade is the real enemy. How convenient to focus on razor blades, candy and consumerism instead of what really matters. How long will it be before we heed the voice calling out, “When will you stop destroying Eden?”
Laura Bachman is a writer, retired body worker and library assistant living in San Anselmo.