Halloween is the strangest celebration, don’t you think? History has it that Halloween straddles the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death.
Indeed, there’s something uncomfortable about Halloween—about its unhealthy friendliness with evil creatures and characters. Shopping malls and private homes are decorated with otherwise unwelcome creatures such as disgusting black rats, ominous black cats, spooky bats and deadly spiders.
Children are often encouraged to dress like the devil, vampires, witches, warlocks, and now bloodied characters of popular TV series, like “Walking Dead,” though all for the fun of it.
Apart from the days we honor our departed and the saints, Halloween is set aside for good people and evil creatures to enjoy a night of truce, the night their symbols are allowed in masks and costumes on children, who are not only welcomed to homes but gifted with candies and sweets.
For all such strangeness, Halloween has always been great fun.
It’s in fact my nine-year-old granddaughter’s favorite time, next to Christmas, and not only because her birthday falls on Halloween’s eve.
However, I notice her choices of costumes becoming darker and darker as she gets older. From the bumblebee and cat and fairy and wizard, this year she has chosen to be a witch.
And it’s in relation to what’s happening in our country that I’m beginning to take a second look at the darker effects of Halloween on the youth.
Strange things have been happening that never did, and in such huge scale—killings in time of peace on a war on drugs that seems personal. The gory pictures in newspapers are not easy to forget, and the strangely too many tales of a handcuffed victim getting shot while trying to grab a policeman’s gun. Incidents happening right in the police station are the most incredible.
These are not Halloween horror stories; these are facts.
Communists were the bogeyman of my time. Now they have found themselves partners with the government on a bargain: They don’t have to surrender their arms, they continue collecting revolutionary tax, and their captured comrades all go free.
If I remember right, the communist ideology excludes God; without Him and the sense of spirituality He inspires, what value, then, would human rights and human dignity or human life itself have?
The president himself keeps rebuking our former allies in the coarsest language, professing to share the ideology with China and Russia, who were, so far as I can recall, regarded as the bogeyman nations, not to be trusted at all.
The national Halloween theme was obvious at the congressional witch hunt where the new secretary of justice himself interrogated convicts, who, out of their orange prison uniforms, were unrecognizable as the misfits of society they are. They were presented by the secretary as the new champions of the truth against his own predecessor, Leila de Lima, now a senator, whom I have always admired.
But, with all the mud thrown at her, I had to ask around, and got my validation: As a chairperson of the Human Rights Commission one must have been strictly vetted, by the international rights groups themselves. In Winnie Monsod’s column I read Leila didn’t even own her home!
On the other hand the convicts were granted immunity from suits in exchange for their testimony against her, whom they accused of being a drug-lord coddler, a beneficiary of the drug business inside the prison, and a porno star. Five of the 27 convicts-turned-witnesses, as it turns out further, have pending applications for clemency ready to be signed by the President.
As de Lima herself has said, “The world has been turned upside down!”
Like a distasteful threat of trick or treat, the congressional committee on justice was keen on showing the obviously fake sex tape on national television, but later changed their minds. How low could they go!
Well, there’s only one way to come out of this prolonged national Halloween night. As Michelle Obama advises, “When they go low, we go high.”
All religions seem to agree: If we don’t like what’s happening around us, look within, that’s were the change must first begin. And it’s not anything superficial; it’s an inner shift of priorities, from self- or family-centered love to philanthropy, love of strangers, love of truth and justice for everyone, and above all a return to Godliness.
While it would be unwise for us to blame the president for our troubles, neither does it mean we should not stand up against abuses and wrongdoing, whether as individuals or as nations. This is one world, and we are all in it together. As the poet philosopher John Donne proclaims, “One man’s death diminishes us all.”
Living in fear
Obviously, the President has a place in God’s plans, too. He may be the storm God sometimes resorts to, to cleanse the very environment we have polluted. Unless we ourselves change, I believe we have the president we deserve, the same way we are exactly where we deserve to be—living in a dark place, indeed, living in fear and uncertainty.
Of course, it would help if the President himself looked within his own heart and “go high” and rise above buck-passing and stop blaming the Americans or whoever else for our ills; it would help if he abandoned his inordinate anger, his un-statesmanlike behavior, his gutter language, and adopted a God-centered, fatherly concern for the future of all Filipinos.
Meanwhile, like-minded people who seem to belong to the minority, should come together as we’ve done before, in both protest and prayer, such that the truth shall out and set us free, such that finally we may awake from our national Halloween nightmare.