Spooky season a welcome escape from reality


There’s no need to mince words – the past month has been horrific for millions. And not in a “scared to go to bed with the lights off,” or a “make sure to check behind the closed shower curtain” kind of way, either. It has been horrifying in an all too real kind of way.

Relentless hurricanes have devastated communities in mainland America and in islands off the coast, including American citizens in Puerto Rico who have been living in a state of shocked stasis. Many remain without power, and the rebuilding effort ahead of them can be described as nothing less than momentous.

Those hoping that the streak of bad news would subside or at least slow down with the changing of the number in the corner of your computer screen must have been utterly winded by the news coming out of Las Vegas on Monday night and into Tuesday morning, as the record that anyone with a shred of decency in their hearts hopes is never again broken was shattered in a hail of merciless gunfire.

The horror that we have seen unfold on television screens and via Twitter videos surpass any tale of ghostly apparitions, any CGI-generated monster or demonic entity and shock us in a guttural, human way that cannot be reproduced.

Perhaps this is the reason that people get excited for Halloween even once well past the age when it’s appropriate and expected to dress up in a costume and ask for candy from strangers. Even though those innocent years of dress-up are gone, the spirit of Halloween – escapism through the absurdly spooky and obscene – persists and burns brightly within adults of all ages as a means to get away from real life problems.

It is a luxury that we are fortunate to enjoy, and a luxury not afforded to so many across the disaster-stricken world. Although front page stories and “breaking news” events may change in rapid succession like the leaves of an oak tree in autumn, the people who are left behind in the wake of these stories are not able to simply put on a scary film and allow a fictional monster to serve as a distraction from reality for a few hours.

These people are trapped in a real life horror movie, and they still need help.

In today’s blisteringly fast-paced media landscape, it can be easy to innocently assume that things have simply gotten less dire because the news isn’t reporting on the situation any more. This is a simple fallacy. In most cases, that brand of news simply isn’t profitable or fresh enough to attract viewers anymore, so they must move onto the next tragedy – meanwhile last month’s tragedies remain unsolved.

Donate to causes supporting victims of each Hurricane, such as the Salvation Army, Global Giving, Direct Relief, Save the Children, UNICEF and the Red Cross. Donate money if you can afford it, blood if you can’t and unneeded supplies like food and clothing if you have extra to spare. If you are extremely fortunate and possess the ability, donate time and help out at the source of these disasters.

While certain news programs will want to focus on showing the sheer breadth of devastation for shock value, or attempt to pointlessly crawl into the mind of a madman who shoots into a crowd of civilians in order to fill their insatiable 24-hour news hole, do not be fooled – it is in the wake of tragedies that we see the brightest, most uplifting aspects of our humanity.


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