We will soon be accompanying our children to a house-to-house search for sweets. It is Halloween season and the goblins are calling.
The children will come into the streets wearing popular outfits associated with heroes and pretty faces, villains and ugly monsters that populate our mythology and make-believe world.
This year however, the many monsters that the children may represent or allude to are more real than in the past as the distortions in the human character they represent have gone beyond being creatures of the night to occupy the bright sunlight of the day in our country. The metaphysical environment that we associate with Halloween has come to life in a very real way.
Australian Aboriginal cultures portray the concept of “Dreaming” as a world view that takes the believer all the way back to creation. Birth is the act of joining that reality stream where the individual lives side-by-side with ancestors and the ancient epic world of monsters and heroes.
For years, I have taken students to visit the artifacts of pre-Columbian Mexico, Central and South America with special emphasis on constructions that both promote the past and announced the future of their way of life. One of my favorite activities is to sit our students on the steps of a pyramid and conduct a lecture myself or by others, including students that prepared for this, as a way of sharing the connection with the sacred and illustrating the importance of the cultural and historical moments that defined the progress of a civilization.
Among the artifacts are the carvings and paintings of heroes and monsters both beautiful and ugly that depict human values and religious beliefs. There, demonstrated concepts are split in two as the birth of a civilization first divides the world view into a light and dark side.
We in America have had extensive experience with both in our history. The 20th Century saw our country protagonize the fight against evil especially in relation to the German empire led by Adolph Hitlers and imperial Japan whose acts brought the US into World War II.
The 21st Century evil has taken the form of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Mohamed Bin Laden in Afghanistan. For many, evil is also associated with Islam, a religion that has been the rationale for terrorist groups around the world.
Christianity is also being used to advance the cause of what is dark, ugly and evil in America. Philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre in his book, After Virtue a Study in Moral Theory (1981) about people and their social roles, points out that characters “are the masks worn by moral philosophies” as they amplify “social roles which provide a culture with its moral definition.”
This definition in what is a divided country politically and demographically, has descended to the create the lowest common denominator of characters espousing militant racism and claims to exclusivity in a land that has become multicultural. It is like the dangerous entities of the darkest nights coming forth to torment a civilization in a time it is no longer theirs.
Children will be up and about this Halloween night to repeat the ritual that in reality is a right of passage from the living to the dead. The reward for their “bravery” is candy.
Metaphorically however, those that dress as the many characters associated the darkness of the uncivilized abyss may no longer be representing make-believe fiction. That is because there are many in broad daylight displaying the characteristics of little or no social morality.