Any Halloween safety article would be remiss if it did not warn parents of the dangers of trick-or-treating.
Don’t trick-or-treat after dark. Only trick-or-treat at houses of people you know. Check all candy for poison, puncture marks, and razor blades. If possible, avoid trick-or-treating altogether by inviting friends to a Halloween party held in the safety of your own home. You never know what the crazies are capable of doing, to say nothing of international terrorist plots.
When did Halloween become so scary? When did we become so afraid?
In the past 30 years, there have only been two documented deaths associated with tampered Halloween candy, and only one of those was actually caused by it. That single case was due to a father poisoning his son in order to collect a life insurance policy, not some stranger handing out candied apples spiked with razor blades.
There is a current of distrust and suspicion so strong in this country that even a holiday dedicated to giving and receiving gifts from near-strangers is tainted with an irrational fear that someone is out to get us. Community goodwill has become so foreign that we search anxiously for sinister ulterior motives in traditions that have been around longer than the community itself.
We fence lawns and gate communities, isolating ourselves as much as possible, secure only in the belief that no one can be trusted.
We can try to blame Sept. 11 or the sniper attacks, but this erosion was going on decades before either event. American community life is vanishing as we try harder and harder to compartmentalize our existence and cut ourselves off from real involvement.
Halloween is just one more sad aspect of the endemic fear of our neighbors that has been reducing church attendance and political participation. We build prisons instead of schools. Our war-mongering foreign policy is even dominated by the fear that “they” are out to get us and that “they” are anywhere and everywhere.
There are real dangers, to be sure. Al-Quaeda exists and there are loonies in every city of the world, but even that doesn’t justify our paranoia. The continued function of society is dependent upon the cooperation of its members.
Every subway ride is an opportunity for countless strangers to shove one another onto the tracks. Every Monday morning class is a chance for wholesale murder. The fact that these things are so rare-and they are rare-is proof that fleeing from a social world is a misguided process.
Even so, why take chances? Muggers lurk in every shadow and we are never safe. Lock your doors; don’t go out. Be suspicious of everyone, especially strangers. Keep the world at arm’s length, live in fear and have a happy, safe and lonely Halloween.