Halloween is our chance to celebrate the darker side of life. What other chance do we have to recognize and confront our fascination with the Macabre, the Violent, the Evil in ourselves without consequence?
Holidays have traditionally been times of reversal: Masters serve the servants, the Fool is King, and God is born in a barn to a poor couple out of wedlock. The celebration of death in a culture that normally refuses to acknowledge its mortality makes all the sense in the world.
At least it did to me until this past weekend. Then I thought of how thoroughly we already express our Macabre, Violent, and Evil selves. Our leaders are vampires who profit from foreign policies certain to kill women and children. We make zombies of the poor with our pop media and our drugs and our justice system better designed to make criminals than citizens. We have all become cyborgs, our rampant consumerism only a few steps away from making us into as much what we own as who we are, our communication moderated by infernal machines rather than the intervening space between human mouth and human ear.
We are our worst fears already. We don't need catharsis; we need change. We don't need costumes of our darker sides; we need a reminder of what our best side could be. There's a real holiday reversal. Better than the consumerism of Christmas and the religious hypocrisy of Easter. Why don't we tell the truth for a change about who we really are, and act the way we know we should?
Why don't we really reverse things. Let's make the little girl in Iraq more important than the CEO of Halliburton. Let's make a decision based on the needs of a poor family in Haiti and not for the board of Exxon. Let's do right by the poor, the disenfranchised, the sick, the weak, and the young instead of perpetuating the power of the already to powerful. There's a holiday reversal.
Let's remember the dead, but not the dead as we imagine them in our nightmares. Instead let's remember their most saintly qualities, their best hopes for their children, their steps toward the the betterment of humankind. Let's remember Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, and Mother Theresa. Let's remember the best of what's come before. And let's be rightly ashamed of ourselves.