Social Commentary

Halloween and Human Evolution

Halloween is the day we don't have to be cheery and upbeat. Maybe that's why Halloween sales are through the roof.


F or those of us who collect paradoxes (a rewarding and fun hobby, now that the Post Office is on the way out—collecting UPS bar codes just isn't the same), here's a good one: when things get beyond a certain point, people stop complaining about them. It's as if it's so unpleasant they have to think about something imaginary instead.

That's probably how Halloween got started. Instead of worrying about death and the relentless tearing away of our lives by starvation, old age, and disease, we dress up our kids as dead people, celebrities, politicians, and other monsters, and send them out to forage for food on their own. No doubt that's one reason why Halloween sales are breaking records this year.

The pre-WWII era gave us The Wizard of Oz and War of the Worlds, which went on the radio on October 30, 1938. Lots of death there, but it's made to feel imaginary. Most listeners knew what it was about, and almost exactly a year later it started. They didn't need to be warned.

I've been noticing the same thing on the Internet. Some writers try to keep up the spirit, but if you're writing of those anti-Obama articles, it's got to be an exercise in frustration. There's just too much stuff to say. To read a litany of the disasters, wars, and now maybe plagues the government has blundered into is like trying to read the encyclopedia, as kids used to do back when people had them. You learned a lot about aardvarks and abacuses, but most kids gave up long before the Boer War. Eventually the articles, admirable as they are, start to look like Volume AAA–ABA, and readers flip over to see what Taylor Swift is wearing today.

One way to predict the future is to notice what people stop warning about. No one warns anymore about America going into decline now that the Day of Ubama has arrived. No one complains anymore about Europe relying on America for its defense. Now that America is crashing, Europe is slowly being torn apart by carnivores. When people stop reminding us that humans are still subject to the law of evolution, we'll know there's real trouble ahead.

Science tells us we're all descended from Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, and all the other guys who made their mark in history by slaughtering their fellow man. Those on the other side of the sword left no descendants. The cruel reality is that all that counts in nature is survival, and violence is part of that. We are no more to blame for our mass murdering ancestors than any other animal. The only difference is that, sometimes, we feel bad afterwards. But that too may just be part of our programming.

The ideologically-minded and the idealistic suffer the same fate when they face the immutable laws of nature. If your ideology is based on denial of reality, it turns into the opposite of its original ideals. The gay rights movement became a parody of the civil rights movement. Environmentalism is gradually turning into an anti-human death cult. Even the feminists' endless complaints about male violence, unequal pay, and no one asking them for dates now sound distant, like dogs barking in the distance against some imaginary intruder. Some people try to control reality by banning dissident thoughts and “hurtful” words, as if by controlling thoughts we can change reality. But pretending a problem doesn't exist only makes it bite harder. If or when the battle for civilization is lost, the witty banter will stop, our bitter programming will take over, and dressing our kids up as dead people will stop being cute, because it will be too close to home.

We're always being told change is good. So embrace the change. Or pretend it's not happening. Nature doesn't care. All the more reason why we should.

Name and address
oct 31, 2014


to top