Halloween and the elections aren’t just a few days apart. They’re both things in which we have free choice.
But we tend to forget we have the power of choice. It is always easiest to make default choices, and follow the crowd. Default choices are the mainstream choices of consumerism and disengagement.
The mainstream/default choice with Halloween is the consumerism choice. It’s handing out candy to kids who already have too much candy. Does this make anybody richer in what matters?
The mainstream/default choice with U.S. mid-term elections is to not bother to vote (only 37% of registered voters voted in 2010, for example). This is called disengagement. Who benefits when we disengage? Narrow, selfish interests, the kind that deny and minimize climate change, and that fuel the growing gap between rich and poor. Disengagement makes our culture poorer in pretty much everything that matters.
Back to the power of choice. Tomorrow night we are breaking into our jar of loose change and giving quarters to our Halloween trick-or-treaters. My friend Sue is handing out dollar bills (affordable, since she only got four kids last year). I’m fond of the dentists who buy candy back from children. They are exercising choice, and helping others do the same (I wonder if the parents of the hyperactive little ones are getting some kickback from these dentists? ). My husband informs me that he and some coworkers have taken the No Candy Pledge, since it’s not just kids who go crazy with candy. Choices abound, when we are open to them.
As far as elections go, I say that we have a responsibility to vote if we’re lucky enough to be able to. A lot of people have died over the centuries to evolve us into the flawed but functioning democracy that we’ve got. Voting — engaging — is life-giving. Disengaging from democratic elections is like turning our backs on life, and each other.