At its core, Samhain is concerning the evening when the previous God dies and the crone Goddess mourns him deeply for the subsequent six weeks. The favored picture of her because the previous Halloween hag stirring her cauldron comes from the Celtic perception that every one lifeless souls return to her cauldron of life, dying and rebirth to await reincarnation.
Regardless of efforts by the Christian church to recast the sabbat, or seasonal pageant, by turning it right into a day of feasting and prayer for saints (All Hallow Eve, previous all Saints Day, remains to be one of many holiest days in Catholicism), Samhain lore and follow remained fashionable and the church was compelled to diabolize it as an evening “boiling with evil spirits.”
Masters of cultural mixing, the church declared that the evil spirits have been dispelled solely the ringing of church bells on All Saints Day. Though terror has nothing to do with this pagan vacation, the concept of Samhain being an evening of unleashed evil took maintain within the collective thoughts.
The have an effect on of this unlucky misinterpretation is that an incredible alternative to replicate on life and dying, on the infinite cycle of seasons, and finally, on confronting and overcoming that which frightens us, has grow to be misplaced. Halloween has grow to be an especially business vacation, second solely to Christmas in adorning and sweet gross sales, or a celebration of the macabre, resulting in fearful rejection by religiously conservative teams, or wanton abandon by these completely satisfied to unleash their variations of the hounds of hell.
Only a few individuals nonetheless, appear to take the chance Halloween presents to face our fears, which is fascinating – or possibly comprehensible — America seems to be one of the vital frightened locations on earth. In response to a NY Instances ballot in 2006, practically half of People really feel “considerably uneasy or in peril.” In contrast with 5 years earlier, 39% of People mentioned they really feel much less protected now, whereas solely 14 % mentioned they really feel safer.
Whereas there are not any precise figures, activate the tv at nearly any given time, and it is clear that there is been a rise, lately, within the variety of crime dramas and crime associated information protection. We have got present just like the venerable America’s Most Wished reminding us that violent predators are unfastened in each metropolis; CSI fixing dramatic murders in at the least three states; 20/20, PrimeTime and 48 Hours, with their companionable reporters warning us, with nice concern for our well-being, about scams, crooks and thugs of each selection; and horrific slasher movies, accessible on cable, proper in our personal houses and enhanced with the very best blood-letting laptop graphics to carry all of it residence.
Within the early Nineteen Nineties, there was a dramatic improve within the public notion of crime as crucial downside going through the nation – 52% of People, in 1994, felt that crime was of utmost concern. Primarily based upon knowledge from 1978 by 1998, outcomes recommend that this “large scare” was extra a community TV information scare than a scare based mostly upon the actual world of crime. The tv information alone accounted for nearly 4 instances extra variance in public perceptions of crime as our most necessary downside, than did precise crime charges, which – consider it or not – have really gone down within the final fifteen years.
Sure – down: For the 10-year pattern, from 1996 to 2005, the FBI stories that violent crime declined practically 18%. Homicide decreased 15% in 2005 in comparison with 1996. On this similar time interval, theft offenses decreased 22%. Even motorized vehicle theft decreased, down greater than 11% in 2005 in contrast with 1996.
So simply what are we so afraid of? In case you’ve managed to keep away from the crime scare, fashionable media has another worries for you: How about dying in an airplane accident? Getting most cancers from …properly, something in any respect? Virulent breeds of superbugs resistant to each identified antibiotic? Meals security? Organ trafficking? Killer bees? Having your little one kidnapped? Hooked on medicine? Or discovering a razor blade of their Halloween sweet? Lead in toys?
For what it is value, the Halloween razor blade factor by no means occurred, and most of these different issues are overblown as properly. Barry Glassner, writer of The Tradition of Worry (Primary Books, 2000), calls these “pseudodangers”, and says the media, advertisers, politicians and numerous corporations and organizations thrive on them and the cash (or votes, which finally interprets to cash) that your fears carry them. Pseudodangers, suggests Glassner, characterize a chance for us to keep away from going through issues head-on. Somewhat than handle – or maybe, higher mentioned, due to our lack of ability to handle — poverty, we concern the criminals that poverty can create. Our lack of ability to handle overseas coverage points renders us frightened of terrorism.
“In nearly each modern American scare,” says Glassner, “fairly than confront disturbing shortcomings in society, the general public dialogue facilities on disturbed people.”
Our fears, nonetheless, are sometimes far worse than our realities.
In response to John Meuller, the Woody Hayes Chair of nationwide safety coverage and professor of political science at Ohio State College, we’re affected by a nationwide false sense of insecurity.
“Till 2001,” he writes, ” far fewer People have been killed in any grouping of years by all types of worldwide terrorism than have been killed by lightning, and nearly none of these terrorist deaths occurred inside america itself. Even with the Sept. 11 assaults included within the depend, the variety of People killed by worldwide terrorism for the reason that late Sixties (which is when the State Division started counting) is about the identical because the variety of People killed over the identical interval by lightning, accident-causing deer, or extreme allergic response to peanuts.”
Additional, Meuller famous that transportation researchers on the College of Michigan calculated than “an American’s likelihood of being killed in a single nonstop airline flight is about one in 13 million (even taking the Sept. 11 crashes under consideration). To achieve that very same degree of threat when driving on America’s most secure roads — rural interstate highways — one must journey a mere 11.2 miles.”
Driving is, in reality, one of the vital harmful issues we do, and but most of us are fairly keen to simply accept that threat. Writer Bruce Schneier, in Past Worry (Springer, 2nd version 2006), observes that, “In America, cars trigger 40,000 deaths yearly; that is the equal of a full 727 crashing each day and a half — 225 whole in a yr. As a society, we successfully say that the chance of dying in a automotive crash is value the advantages of driving round city. But when those self same 40,000 individuals died every year in fiery 727 crashes as an alternative of vehicle accidents, you will be positive there can be important adjustments within the air passenger methods. Equally, research have proven that each drivers and passengers in SUVs usually tend to die in accidents than these in compact vehicles, but one of many main promoting factors of SUVs is that the proprietor feels safer in a single.”
A lot of our fears, of late, contain kids – every little thing from being afraid for them to being afraid *of* them. Surveys have discovered that kidnapping tops dad and mom’ listing of issues for his or her kids. But the most important security problem for youths is fundamental easy security measures in houses and public locations. The danger of kidnapping by strangers stays extremely small – underneath 1% of the nation’s greater than 64 million kids are seized by non-family members and truly returned. A much smaller quantity die.
And people killer Columbine kind children? They’re statistically nearly non-existent. 80% of our nation’s counties by no means expertise a juvenile murder.
However are issues getting worse? “There may be nothing new on the earth besides the historical past you have no idea, “mentioned Harry Truman.
“A brand new military of 6 million males are being mobilized in opposition to us, a military of delinquents. Juvenile delinquency has elevated at an alarming fee and is consuming on the coronary heart of America,” declared a Juvenile court docket decide – in 1946.
There are “predatory beasts” on the streets, hordes of teenagers and preteens operating wild in metropolis streets, “gnawing away on the foundations of society,” mentioned a commentator – within the nineteenth century. In 1850 in New York alone, there have been greater than 200 gang wars fought principally by teenage boys.
The youngest American ever executed for homicide was 12 years previous. She killed the newborn in her care – in 1786.
So how did we get so scared? Our fears, suggests Glassner, are rigorously and repeatedly fed by anybody who needs to create concern, usually by manipulating phrases, information, information, sources or knowledge, in an effort to induce sure private behaviors, justify governmental actions or insurance policies (at residence or overseas), maintain individuals consuming, elect sure politicians, or distract the general public’s consideration from allegedly extra pressing social points like poverty, social safety, unemployment, crime or air pollution. The commonest strategies for social haunting embrace:
- Cautious choice and omission of stories (some related information are proven and some should not); (reporting that the primary downside academics confronted in 1940 was speaking and gum chewing, and in 1990, being pregnant, suicide and drug abuse; distorted from a Nationwide Heart for Training Statistics survey inquiring with principals, not academics, about crimes – when really requested, academics right now website issues guardian apathy and lack of textual content books as their largest issues)
- Distortion of statistics or numbers (declaring 800,000 kids lacking every yr, however failing to interrupt these statistics down meaningfully)
- Transformation of single occasions into social epidemics; (going “postal” is not a postal service epidemic – that is still one of many most secure occupations)
- Corruption and distortion of phrases or terminology in response to particular targets;
- Stigmatization of minorities, particularly when related to felony acts or degrading habits;
- Generalization of advanced and multifaceted conditions;
- Causal inversion (turning a trigger into an impact or vice-versa).
None of that is to recommend we should not be cautious or conscious or involved, that we should not be proactive in caring for ourselves or our kids, and taking regular precautions for well being and security. However easy issues like carrying seatbelts and washing arms will do extra to guard you than refusing to speak to strangers or carrying a gun.
“To concern is one factor,” says writer Katherine Paterson, who wrote Jacob Have I Beloved (HarperTrophy, 1990). “To let concern seize you by the tail and swing you round is one other.”
Nobel Prize Laureate Bertrand Russell, a British thinker, logician, essayist and social critic, recommended, in 1950 after we have been coping with all kinds of nonetheless acquainted issues, there are two methods of dealing with concern:
“… one is to decrease the exterior hazard, and the opposite is to domesticate Stoic endurance. The latter will be strengthened, besides the place instant motion is important, by turning our ideas away from the reason for concern. The conquest of concern is of very nice significance. Worry is in itself degrading; it simply turns into an obsession; it produces hate of that which is feared, and it leads headlong to excesses of cruelty. “
In “We’re Not Afraid,” Homer Hickam, writer Rocket Boys (Delta, 2000) (which was made into the movie, October Sky) , drew on his experiences rising up within the courageous and resilient group of Coalwood, West Virginia, a city have been the specter of dying was fixed, however concern was not. He mentioned Coalwood residents take a 4 pronged strategy to fearlessness that he sums up in one thing like a set of mantras:
- We are happy with who’re
- We arise for what we consider
- We maintain our households collectively
- We belief in God however depend on ourselves
Hickam additionally says one thing profoundly Buddhist early in his ebook. He says that regardless of the ills of our society, we largely dwell amongst compassionate, sort and optimistic people who find themselves striving to do good. “As an American,” he says, in a line that may make the Dali Lama proud, “you could have an obligation to be completely satisfied. It says proper there in our Declaration of Independence that we’ve god given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So do your responsibility. Learn to be completely satisfied and maintain this in thoughts: You may’t be completely satisfied except you cease being afraid.”
Senator. John McCain (R-Ariz.) places it much less poetically: “Get on the rattling elevator! Fly on the rattling airplane! Calculate the percentages of being harmed by a terrorist! It is nonetheless about as possible as being swept out to sea by a tidal wave. Suck it up, for crying out loud. You are nearly actually going to be OK. And within the unlikely occasion you are not, do you actually wish to spend your final days cowering behind plastic sheets and duct tape? That is not a life value residing, is it?”
Worry, Hickam says, is generally a behavior.
“The behavior of concern and dread,” he writes, “will be in comparison with having a power illness. A few of us have gotten so used to having it, we do not even know we’re contaminated. A symptom of this illness is that we stroll round with slumped shoulders and drag one heavy foot after one other. We dread getting away from bed within the morning, sure that solely terrible issues are going to occur after we do. We by no means have something good to say about something, and that features ourselves. We do not like the best way we glance. We really feel victimized. We’re envious of others and assume the world is stuffed with meanness. Actually, we predict the world is a horrible place. We moan and groan. We finally lose our household and buddies. We grow to be sorry sights and we do not even know why. Worse, the illness we’ve is infectious. Harmless individuals we encounter are inclined to catching concern and dread from us, together with our kids. We all know one thing’s incorrect, however we do not know methods to be cured.’
One solution to rid your self of this an infection, says Hickam, is to “arise straight and ….be happy with who you might be.” To do this, he says, it is necessary to know who you might be, and the way you are linked to your loved ones and your group. That includes speaking to relations, to group members – and passing their tales on to your kids and different relations. To be unafraid, you must be linked to one thing bigger than your self, says Hickam.
The behavior of concern and dread additionally causes timidity, says Hickam, an inclination to keep away from confrontation, particularly in defending our opinion. That one’s most likely not fairly as large a problem right here for us – we’ve a number of opinions and fling them round simply right here. However how about “on the market”? “In case you act as if what you assume is not necessary, it is the identical as believing *you* aren’t necessary,” writes Hickam. “An angle like that may squeeze the life proper out of anyone.”
Probably the greatest methods to beat that side of concern and dread, he says, is “to take up for individuals who cannot take up for themselves.”
“There’s all the time somebody who wants you assist. How are you going to be afraid if you happen to’re the protector of another person in a harmful world? Generally, simply performing courageous is sufficient to make you courageous. “
However there’s extra to it than simply faking it until you make it. Hickam says you must also educate that individual to face up for himself, too, in order that he can maintain his dignity. Hickam cautions that standing up for what you consider “doesn’t imply that each time you’re feeling you are being slighted, it’s best to erupt with loud, hateful habits. Standing up for what you consider has nothing to do with being violent or being obnoxious due to some perceived oppression. This angle ahs to do with a quiet willpower to have your opinion defined and heard. To be efficient, it additionally needs to be respectful and honest. … The best method of standing up is all the time going to be the nonviolent method, quiet however decided.”
Conserving our households collectively can really be one of many more durable instruments for fearlessness, observes Hickam, however it’s an important one. “An intact, functioning household works to not solely present a loving refuge, but additionally fills within the cracks of our personal personalities. The place one member of the family is weak, one other is robust. A cohesive group is all the time stronger than a person, irrespective of how sensible he’s, or what number of muscle mass he ahs or the rest. The household could be a protect in opposition to the world, and likewise the springboard to a greater life.”
And at last, Hickam says trusting God however counting on your self is a positive solution to rise above concern. “The individuals of Coalwood have been in opposition to calling on God any time they wanted assist,” he recalled. “For one factor, it was thought of rude. God had a variety of issues to fret about in spite of everything, with out together with every little thing that acquired in the best way of 1 specific human being. The way in which people within the city noticed it, God had already offered them with most of what they wanted to get previous a scrape, together with their very own good frequent sense.” Largely, he mentioned, they reserved their prayers for thanks.
Whereas others usually ponder why dangerous issues occur to good individuals, Hickam ponders one thing he says as extra wonderful: “Why, in a universe and a world the place every little thing should work laborious to easily survive, did that which we consider as first rate and wonderful get embedded into our souls? Why is that we crave goodness, hunt down honesty and try to be honorable, even when evil is a lot simpler? How is that evil, the will to destroy and harm others, hasn’t been the driving pressure in our species and our world and our universe? Some nice goodness is on the market, and it is right here, too. It’s in every single place.”
We’re two components, says Hickam, “one religious and the opposite bodily. Each are necessary. The design of the human physique and thoughts is proof of that nice fact. Now we have to belief within the spirit that’s in every single place round us and in us. However we additionally should use our arms and minds to maintain our households protected and construct a greater world.”
A world during which we aren’t afraid.
“We’re not afraid.”
Say it slowly, and savor it, says Hickam, like we must always savor the world and every second. This sacred time of yr honors the timeless adjustments of our lives, and affords us a uncommon alternative to look dying within the eye and provides it a wink and a nod.
“There isn’t a cause to concern life or dread what is perhaps coming your method,” writes Hickam. “Each hour of each day, recall all of the individuals who got here earlier than you, all those that make up who you might be, and stand tall and be proud. Irrespective of how perilous the instances, they are going to all the time be with you…”
Bertrand Russell would agree. “We wish to stand upon our personal toes and look honest and sq. on the world,” he mentioned. ” — its good information, its dangerous information, its beauties, and its ugliness; see the world as it’s and be not afraid of it. Conquer the world by intelligence and never merely by being slavishly subdued by the phobia that comes from it. …We ought to face up and look the world frankly within the face. We should make the very best we are able to of the world, and if it’s not so good as we want, in spite of everything it should nonetheless be higher than what these others have fabricated from it in all these ages. A very good world wants data, kindliness, and braveness; it doesn’t want a regretful hankering after the previous or a fettering of the free intelligence by the phrases uttered way back by ignorant males. It wants a fearless outlook and a free intelligence. It wants hope for the long run, not wanting again on a regular basis towards a previous that’s lifeless, which we belief will probably be far surpassed by the long run that our intelligence can create.”
As Samhain reminds us, dying isn’t an finish, however a transition, a time to sit up for new beginnings, after we will probably be born anew because the wheel of the yr activates and on.
And there may be nothing to be afraid of.