Halloween is an odd holiday. The ostensible concept, as it has evolved to become, is to shock, startle, frighten, petrify, horrify, and/or terrify…all while consuming enough high fructose corn syrup to keep the American Dental Association content for another century or two.
Every year, as October 31 nears, loyal Americans eagerly squander a small fortune to adorn their humble abodes with Made-in-China images of tombstones, skulls, ghouls, goblins, monsters, zombies, and even the occasional bloody severed limb or two. While none of these cardboard depictions scare me as much as, say, the upcoming fifth installment of Stallone’s “Rocky” series, I do believe there are plenty of real-life creatures that might warrant their own Halloween mask this year…and I’m not just talking about celluloid slashers.
Ghosts, to me, are not a bigger or more urgent concern than irreparable environmental damage, and I certainly lose less sleep over the dead rising from their graves to eat me than I do a planet populated with oppressed and starving humans.
Forget Freddie of Elm St., I give you Henry the Horrible (Kissinger, that is): “Depopulation should be the highest priority of foreign policy towards the Third World, because the U.S. economy will require large and increasing amounts of minerals from abroad, especially from less developed countries.”
Never mind Jason and his hockey mask when Ann Coulter is playing right wing: “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”
No need to worry about a fire-breathing reptile like Godzilla when a Condoleezard is loose in DC: “There is nothing wrong with doing something that benefits all humanity, but that is, in a sense, a second-order effect.”
And, let’s face it, a nocturnal bloodsucker named Dracula is nothing compared to the Big Bad Bushes of Yale roaming the earth both day and night: Bush the Elder: “I will never apologize for the United States of America. I don’t care what the facts are.” Bush the Lesser: “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”
Of course, if none of those political poltergeist sends a chill down your ever-loving spine, you can chew on this factoid as you devour those Twizzlers, Bon Bons, and Almond Joys: For the first time in history, there are as many underweight people in the world as there are overweight people: 1.1 billion of each. (Running parallel to that troubling trend comes the reality that 100 million Americans-one-third the population-are either underinsured or uninsured when it comes to health care.) In other words…step away from the candy corn.
If you’re still not quaking in your boots or pulling the covers over your head, let’s take this hunt for horror global. Think about this as all those kids-in overpriced Barney costumes-come knocking on your door, expecting candy and more: Across the globe, an estimated 29,158 children under the age of 5 die from mostly preventable causes every single day. Cue the ominous music: 29,158 dead. Under the age of 5. Every single day. From mostly preventable causes.
The next time you’re at a sporting event or a concert, take a good, slow look around you and get a feel for what 29,158 looks like. It’s a whole lot more terrifying than the whir of a chainsaw echoing down a desolate Texas highway.
Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.