WHAT IS ON YOUR AGENDA?

November 24, 2009
The word “agenda”  has left behind it something of a troubled etymological trail.

Once defined as a list of things to be done or considered, ‘agenda’ today, has come to represent something more covert and sinister involving ulterior motives and driven by considerations hidden from the usual realm of common experience.

The promulgation of the U.N’s Agenda 21 might have had something to do with that change in definition. 

Agenda 21  was  a program first disseminated at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit), held in Rio de Janeiro on June 14, 1992, where 178 governments voted to adopt it.  The program laid out what the gathered representatives of the world governments agreed needed to be done to reduce wasteful and inefficient consumption patterns in some parts of the world while encouraging increased but sustainable development in others.  In a 40 chapter document, Agenda 21 outlined its plan for the control of the Earth and its resources, offering no less than the complete recalibration of human society and a re-structured approach to managing over-population, over-consumption and the Earth’s life-supporting capacity.

This, in turn , was built on the premises of General Assembly Resolution 44/228 of 22 December 1989, which was adopted when the nations of the world called for the commission of  the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, and on the acceptance of the need to take a balanced and integrated approach to environmental and development questions.

Yet over the past 17 years the implementation and the influence of the Agenda has been neither balanced nor integrated.  Rather it has been used as a tool of an elite multinational bureaucracy to undermine national sovereignty, suppress individual rights, increase restrictions on indivudal mobility , squlech opportunity and raise the needs of the environment above that of humanity.

With the stamp of a supposedly multilateral consensus, the Agenda  is now spreading throughout the world under the mantle of the Education for Sustainability Movement.  This movement, through a variety of plans and designs,  calls for an end to the structure of western civilization as we know it.    The elimination of private property, the restructuring of the family unit, the negation of national sovereignty,  a proscription on growth, increasing restrictions on mobility and access to opportunity and the control of human procreation  – are all matters addressed by the sustainability movement.

Moreover, it addresses a host of features of modern society which it deems unsustainable. What are they? According to the Global Biodiversity Assessment Report, a publication of the United Nations Environment Program ( UNEP) and as reported by Freedom Advocates,  they include golf courses, ski runs, scuba diving, synthetic drugs, railroads, paved roads, consumerism, fish ponds, modern hunting  and irrigation.  All are, in one way or another, prohibited by the sustainability agenda in the interests of an earth which will be protected from the hand of human degradation.

There can be few doubts of the rapid spread of  this environmental dogma throughout educated elites of the Western world.

  • In Britain this month, sustainability and environmentalism was ruled by a UK judge a protected religious belief”
  • Over 650 Presidents of Colleges in the United States have signed on  to the Education for Sustainability Movement, signing the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment created by the advocacy group Second Nature and supported by several other groups. Other college administrators are creating sustainability programs in the residence life, student activities, and buildings and grounds.
  • UNESCO has called the decade of 2005-2015 The Decade of Sustainable Development.
  • The United States itself bought into this when the Congress passed all provisions of the Higher Education Sustainability Act (HESA) as part of the new Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HR 4137) in July 2008  which has created pioneering “University Sustainability Grants”  offering competitive grants to institutions and associations of higher education to develop, implement and evaluate sustainability curricula, practices, and academic programs.
  • California State University in Chico held its fifth annual  This Way to Sustainability Conference earlier this month, – the largest  international conference yet on sustainable development with over 100 speakers and 1,000 participants on subjects ranging from “ Tools for Leadership and Change” to “ Happiness.” (If anyone needs an idea of the extent to which the sustainability movement is seeking influence in education, go no further than viewing the 100 “ Green” courses” offered by the same university  at 
    (http://cypress.csuchico.edu/APO/Course_net1/GreenCourses.aspx)

The sustainability movement is also inordinately pagan in its practices and outlook. In 1992, Maurice Strong, the Secretary-General of the Earth Conference, hinted at the overtly religious agenda proposed for a future Earth Charter, when in his opening address to the Rio delegates he said, “It is the responsibility of each human being today to choose between the force of darkness and the force of light…….We must therefore transform our attitudes and adopt a renewed respect for the superior laws of Divine Nature.”  Strong finished with unanimous applause from the crowd.

In anticipation of the conference, his wife, Hanne Strong, held a three-week vigil with Wisdomkeepers, a group of “global transformationalists.” Through round-the-clock sacred fire, drumbeat, and meditation, the group helped hold the “energy pattern” for the duration of the summit.

As if to prove the wild eyed ambition of  this New Age millenarianism, authors of the Earth Charter, an environmental manifesto promulgated at a UNESCO meeting held in Paris in March, 2000 commissioned the building of The Ark of Hope ,  a latter day replica of the Ark of the Covenant as a place of refuge for the Earth Charter document.The Ark was later brought on foot to New York City from Vermont (just as the Ancient Israelites had once carried their Ark) and exhibited at the United Nations.

Is it any wonder that Strong would  commentafter the promulgation of the Earth Charter:  “The real goal of the Earth Charter is that it will in fact become like the Ten Commandments.” 

 Or that Mikhail Gorbachev, one of the  world’s leading proponents of sustainability  could state: “ Do not do unto the environment of others what you do not want done to your own environment….My hope is that this Charter will be a kind of Ten Commandments, a ‘Sermon on the Mount’, that provides a guide for human behavior toward the environment in the next century.”

There is little doubt this drive towards sustainability is part and parcel of the general environmental movement – embraced by such seemingly benign NGOs as the Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, National Wildlife Federation and even  our own National Parks Service.  These institutions, over the past twenty years, have become wholly radicalized by environmental elites who view themselves as the guardians of  an earth pledged to protect us against human environmental degradation.  But because sustainability presents itself under the mask of environmentalism, few people question its underlying motives. They fail to understand that their “Green movement,” so apparently in keeping with responsible management of our planet and its resources, has morphed into a pseudo-religion, with its own definition of heretics and apostates and supported by communists, anarchists and New Age acolytes who, locked in an unholy alliance, want to change our lives.

The movement, however, is not marching forward without its watchdogs and robust critics.  Holly Swanson, founding director of an Oregon-based organization called Operation Green Out that works “to get Green politics out in the open and out of the classroom,” and the author of Set Up and Sold Out:  What Green Really Means is a brilliant advocate within the anti-sustainability movement.  The National Association of Scholar’s Ashley Thorne reports regularly on the NAS’ website on developments in sustainability education.

Today, environmentalists, academics, celebrities and even multi-national corporations are touting “going green” as synonymous with social responsibility. Yet as we enter the second decade of this century, we would be well advised to take a cynical view of this movement and understand that the “Green” they are endorsing, rarely represents the drive for environmental excellence.  Instead it is an attempt to impose a revolutionary social order upon humanity, inspiring a new form of religion observance and seeking to elevate the importance of environmental concerns well above humans needs.

If you value the life you live today, then you better understand all of this – no matter what’s on your own agenda.

 
 
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MULTICULTURALISM WAS THE TRUE KILLER AT FORT HOOD

November 21, 2009

Pundits, commentators, newscasters and our political class are all looking for the clues:  Who and what caused Major Nidal Malik Hasan to launch a deadly attack on his fellow soldiers in Fort Hood, Texas last week  resulting in the massacre of 14, including the life of an unborn baby?

Take your pick of the reasons:

  • Hasan was bridling with indignation that the United States was carrying out military operations against fellow Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq
  • Hasan cracked under the strain of dealing with trauma victims returning from overseas duty.
  • Hasan was inflamed by the prejudicial treatment he had received from his colleagues and superiors.
  • Hasan was infuriated that the army would not allow practicing Muslim servicemen to become conscientious objectors before shipping  them out to countries where they would be forced to shoot and  kill their co-religionists
  • Hasan was the latest example of America’s love affair with guns and its fatal ambivalence in policing them.
  • Hasan was simply a very disturbed individual who had exhibited paranoid, anti-social behavior at numerous times during his military career

Such reasons seem to echo the same motivations our chattering classes once ascribed to another famous killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, viz: the killer was driven by personal issues which had nothing to do with his adoption of  a hateful ideology or contempt for America and its values.

But the truth is now becoming stunningly clear.  Hasan was a confirmed jihadist, his values and ideals tied directly to the same ideology which resulted in 3,000 deaths in America on a sunny morning in September, 2001 and has been the catalyst for 14,327 individual terrorist incidents worldwide since that date.

Even at this early stage of the investigation, his emails, recorded conversations and own writings provide conclusive proof that he considered suicide bombings, the premeditated mass killings of innocents and fatal attacks against United States civilians and  military personnel as justified acts of homicide. He was deeply influenced in these views by the preachings of an imam, Anwar al-Alwaki, who, according to the 9/11 Commission, was the spiritual guide to two of the 9/11 hijackers in a San Diego mosque.  Hasan had also attended the Dar al-Hirjah mosque in Falls Church, Virgina where al-Awlaki once preached. In the month before the massacre Hasan had exchanged 10-20 emails with the imam who is now believed living in exile in Yemen. 
 
On the day following the Ft. Hood massacre, on his website,  al-Awlaki praised Hasan as a true Muslim warrior, as “a hero” and “a man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people.”

How long will it take for our cognoscenti  to connect these dots? 

Perhaps we should indeed be moving beyond an examination of Hasan’s motivations, which are clear and incontrovertible, to asking ourselves these far more relevant questions: 

Why was a man of Hasan’s temperament and ideology not properly vetted before being accepted into the U.S. Army?  

Why was no one willing to pay heed to the warning signs of an impending catastrophe?

 Why is the media working so assiduously to obscure the true motivations for his crime?

The answer to the first question is that since 9/11, the U.S. military  has been under increasing pressure to embrace diversity as a governing principle for recruitment.  Military advertisements, in a range of communities, suggest that cultural affinities and religious observance are respected in the U.S. army while accommodations are made for particular aspects of appearance.  It should be no surprise then that the November 9th edition of Army Times carries a front page story headlined – Regs Make Way for ReligionSikh, Muslim Allowed To Incorporate Customs Into Army Dress.

The story details how Captain  Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, a practicing Sikh, was granted permission on October 22  to wear a beard and a turban with his uniform.   The decision stands in stark contrast to a 1986 Supreme Court decision (Goldman vs Weinberger), where the Court upheld a proscription on Jews wearing yarmulkes while in uniform. 

With the army displaying such giddy obeisance to diversity and multicultural sensitivities, is it any wonder that its own Chief of Staff, Gen. George Casey, in the wake of the massacres, proclaimed that, “as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.”

Given such hand wringing over the necessities to produce a  true “multicultural” army, it seems fairly clear that Nidal Malik Hasan was accepted into the armed forces and then rose to the rank of major, despite his dubious associations and anti-American beliefs, because he was a Muslim.  The inescapable conclusion is that the army feels it must have Muslims within its ranks in order to prove it has no beef with Islam and that this over rides the suitability of  practicing Muslim recruits for actual army service.

The answer to the second question is even more troubling.

Hasan’s penchant for spouting anti-American rhetoric and for declaiming on the essential justice of a jihadist campaign was well known to his superiors and the FBI.   But as a Fox News report, investigators were loathe to launch an investigation of the  email trail which led from Hasan to Anwar al-Alwaki  for fear of being “ crucified” in the breach of the Major Hasan’s First Amendment rights.

But what of  Hasan’s superiors, who certainly knew of his beliefs and ideological commitments?  In 2007, as a recruit, he made a power point presentation at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D.C. where he underlined Muslim grievances against the U.S. and supported the Jihadist justification for attacks on U.S. military personnel.  You would think that this would offer some cause for alarm. Yet no one  spoke up or complained about these outrageous views emanating from the mouth of a U.S. army officer, even though one colleague expressed reservations about “sharing a foxhole” with the man.

Why was no one willing to expose this ticking time bomb within their midst?   For the same reason the FBI resisted the urge to build a more comprehensive file on Hasan:  he is  a Muslim, and therefore, as a defamed and persecuted minority within the United States, a case to be handled with delicacy.  

The evidence unfortunately grows that multicultural sensitivities will often trump security interests, even when the lives of American citizens are directly threatened. 

Finally we come to the media.

The New York Times, in an editorial on November 6, declared that:  “It is unclear what might have motivated Major Hasan.  He seems to have been influenced by a mixture of political, religious and psychological factors.”
It followed a day later with a story suggesting  that Hasan was driven crazy by the stress of his job as a psychiatrist.

CNN’s Chris Matthews , in an interview on November 11 with Nihad Awad, a representative of  the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), focused not on the motivations for the crime but on whether Muslims in America should fear a wave of reprisals as revenge for the shootings. In the course of the interview the two men seemed to agree that we may never discover the true motivations for the killings.  
 
And here’s a doozy from The Guardian’s Michael Tomasky:

“ The fact that Hasan reportedly shouted the Allahu Akaba is meant, I suppose, to imply that he was an extremist fanatic. I’m not sure that it does. My understanding is that it’s something Arab people often shout before doing something or other.”

The fact that suicide jihadists are regularly recorded as intoning these words before committing murder and that two flight recorders from the four planes which crashed on 9/11 have the hijackers murmuring them repeatedly, seems to say nothing to Tomasky and others like him.

Why?  Why such a cognitive suspension of  one’s own powers of analysis and deduction? 

 Why such an apparent inability to parse wishful thinking from reality?

Because the members of our media are loathe to present us anything as starkly black and white as good and evil, prefering an infinitely more comfortable grey zone where no reader or listener need  be railroaded into judgement or moral distinctions.

Yet it is this murky grey zone which provides the intellectual fodder for multicultural sensitivites and cultural acceptance of deviant, asocial behavior.  It also happens to be the same swamp from which  Jihadists fish for their claims of moral equivalence  and the materials from which their protective social dome is constructed.

Expressions of Islamic extremism go unchecked in our society because no one seems  willing to trip  the wires of multicultural correctness.  Despite the events of 9/11, despite the thousands of  terrorist attacks and murders around the world which have drawn their inspiration from the Koran and Islam, our society  – from our government, to our houses  of learning to our armed forces, insists on subscribing to an utter falsehood that religion plays no role whatosever in these attacks.   Instead  they hew to multicultural tropes which deaden our acceptance of the truth.

A jihadist ideologue may well have pulled the trigger that ended 14 lives last week.  But it was multiculturalism and its inveterate partner ‘diversity’  which opened the gate and  allowed him entry  into our lives.   

We should all be questioning how much further we can allow that gate to swing open.  We should all be wondering, if the gate is to remain even a  little ajar, what barriers will exist to  prevent further expressions of hatred, acts of incitement and the perpetration of wanton, indiscriminate murder.


WHY OBAMA SHOULD HAVE GONE TO BERLIN

November 10, 2009

In  1961, Ingo Kruger was a 21- year-old champion diver who lived in East Berlin.  On the night of August 13 he realized that his life was about to change forever.  The German Democratic Republic’s decision to establish a wall dividing East and West Berlin, imposing a finality to the question of post-war German unity, weighed heavily on him.   It would mean that he would no longer have  regular access to his work place, nor, most importantly, to his fiancée who lived on the Western side of the barrier.  Although in the months ahead his fiancée was able to obtain permission to occasionally visit him, the situation was becoming increasingly intolerable.  So he decided to take matters into his own hands.  

On the night of December 10, 1961 he donned a wetsuit and breathing apparatus with a plan to  swim under the River Spree to freedom in the West.  Several people were let in on the scheme, including his fiancée who was to wait for him on the other side.  His desire was to swim under the water for 500 yards, before emerging at a spot on the Western bank which the East German border guards did not regularly patrol.  

The daring idea ended in tragedy. 

Later that night, an East German customs launch fished a body of a young man from the Spree. Ingo Kruger’s fiancée, only 200 yards away, watched in horror as his inert form was pulled onto the vessel.  The champion diver had simply miscalculated the frigidity of the water and his likely resistance to the cold. 

Episodes like this, in which separated families, lovers and work colleagues sought their freedom and reunification, occurred again and again over the next few years. Many ended in success.  But many equally ended in failure with either the death of escapee and his or her capture and subsequent imprisonment by the East Berlin border guards or the vopos. 

 As the barrier between the Eastern and Western sides of the former German capital became increasingly impenetrable, the thirst for freedom on the Eastern side only grew. The East Berliners learned to devise ingenious methods to secure their freedom, including the construction of tunnels, home made hot air balloons, forged documents or cars, retro-fitted with obscure compartments for hiding escapees.  

Yet over time, as the Wall became a fixture in the regular life of Berlin, the world soon forgot the oppression under which East Berliners lived.  It forgot the grim food shortages in the East, the lines for basic commodities, the intense censorship of opinion or the domestic surveillance practices of the notorious Stasi secret police, where brothers were encouraged to betray brothers and children to spy on their parents.  

Even the West German government itself had become so accustomed to the wall and the existence of an ‘alternative’ Germany, that it eventually surrendered its own claim to be the sole and legitimate representative of the German people. 

But the East Berliners themselves had not forgotten.   Their desire for freedom was repeatedly proven by the increasing flood of refugees who would abandon everything they owned, including cars with keys still in the ignition, to clamber over embassy walls or risk their lives in foolhardy attempts at flight.

 It took an American president to remind the world that freedom and liberty are immutable rights of humanity and that such indignity as the German Democratic Republic  had imposed on their own people could not be tolerated. 

Standing at the Brandenburg Gate in June 1987, Ronald Reagan, rejecting the counsel of his own advisers, threw down the gauntlet to the aging East German leadership and their Soviet sponsors, demanding that the Wall dividing the city be torn down.  By that time the wall had not just come to be seen as the barrier  cleaving a city in two, but the essential divide between East and West– and between two political systems which had grudgingly learned to accommodate one another. 

After 26 years of division, oppression and the tepid protests of world leaders, that voice roared over the city and then throughout the world as a demand for change.  Here was a Western leader prepared to make a stand for human liberty at a time when the world largely met such earnestness with a shrug.  It was Reagan’s gesture, at a time when the Soviet Union was exposing its own weaknesses and failures, that brought the future of the West again into focus and is one of the main reasons he is remembered with such admiration today.

Reagan’s demand was of course tied directly to the work and actions of Administrations before him, including those of Truman and Kennedy, who had taken similarly defiant stands against the cruel imposition of demagogic rule.  Both presidents had recognized that Berlin represented the battleground, not for the extension of American or NATO hegemony over Europe, but for the future of western civilization itself.  Their pronouncements and actions were statements of a resolve to maintain the onward thrust of human history toward liberty and freedom and beyond the fetid swamp of subjugation and cruelty into which humanity has always risked sinking. 

What is then one to make of the Barack Obama’s decision not to accept German president Angela Merkel (a former East German)’s invitation to join other Western leaders in celebrating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall?  It would seem appropriate that the half century long struggle to defeat a pernicious and degrading ideology, which had ended in the triumph of truth over coercion and dignity over power, would be an event any American president would willingly lend his presence.  

Would there be a more fitting occasion for an American president, particularly one gifted with  such a widely acknowledged talent for soaring rhetoric, to reinforce his country’s fundamental beliefs in the American ( and now largely Western)  notions of the inalienable rights of human beings to life, liberty and  the pursuit of happiness?  What better occasion to do that than on the anniversary of the collapse of a symbol of oppression that had come to signify, more than any post-war icon, the devastating impact of totalitarianism on the human character and psyche? 

Yet Barack Obama did indeed once go to Berlin.  Candidate Obama, in the summer of  2008, had originally planned to deliver a Kennedy-esque address at the Brandenburg Gate, before being denied that honor by Angela Merkel, who, aware of the significance of the location, feared the accusation of influence peddling.  Still, with his nomination secured, Obama nevertheless arranged to stand before 200,000 people  in front of  the city’s Victory Column and pronounce: “ This city, of all cities, knows the dream of freedom. When you, the German people, tore down the Wall, walls came tumbling down around the world. From Kiev to Cape Town, prisoner camps were closed and the doors of democracy were opened.”  

Stirring words indeed.  It is really too bad he can’t see fit to repeat such sentiments as a president.

For President Barack Obama has chosen not to go to Berlin on the anniversary of that  city’s and  the West’s greatest triumph.  It is this decision, contra Reagan’s, Kennedy’s and Truman’s, which may well come to define his presidency.  For in his ten months in office President Obama, unlike Candidate Obama, has failed to evince much faith at all in the virtues of  human liberty and the necessity to confront tyranny wherever it is found. 

His speech before the United Nations only six weeks ago, when he had the opportunity to connect his own presidency to that of his post-War predecessors, excluded some of the most important notions on which American presidents had once been unanimously resolved. No advocacy for the benefits of democracy; no emphasis on the value of a free enterprise system;  no bolstering of nascent democratic governments struggling in the shadow of  oppressive national giants;  no willingness to identify ideologies or political movements which might threaten Western survival. 

Instead Barack Obama has transformed himself into a world citizen, given to platitudes about mutual tolerance, shared interests and world unity , all of which may sound sweet to the ears of those who have decried American unilateralism for years, but may be at odds with American resolve to promote liberty and to lead the world in defending against threats to Western ideals.  For the multilateral nostrums he so intently endorses, necessarily suggest constraints on national sovereignty and the concurrent accommodation of regimes, ideologies and political movements that may be decidedly opposed to the pursuit of human freedom. 

In all this Obama seems convinced that his personal magnetism and charisma has been enough to excite a sudden embrace of American multilateralism. But by so openly coddling regimes whose hostility to American leadership on issues of freedom and liberty is no secret, Obama has, in only ten months, surrendered the international moral leadership of the American presidency and reduced it to a shadow of its former prominence as the world’s leading proponent for human freedom.  That is a tragedy some of his 20th century predecessors would mourn.

Berlin, on the other hand, should be remembered this week as the city where the decisions were made to launch both world wars of the 20th Century; became the focal point of the Cold War and the only place in the history of that conflict where American and Soviet tanks faced off against one another. The city has come to symbolize the passage of modern European history from autocracy to dictatorship, through authoritarianism to freedom.  Its maintenance of a free and democratic republic for the past 20 or so years would have been reason enough for the president of the United States to travel to the city and lead the celebrations in its honor.

Perhaps he could have then stood proudly at the Brandenburg Gate and, echoing the sentiments of a previous visiting American president, declared:

“ If anyone still accepts the belief that the human quest for personal liberty and national freedom will fail to become a universal trend –   let them come to Berlin!”

 


THE HALLOWEEN GRAVE DANCE

November 10, 2009

 

It is that time of year again when I become irritatingly sanctimonious. My family readily  expects that the last day of October will arouse my deepest antipathies.   Blame it on my upbringing.  Since, as an Australian, I was not privileged to be raised with the Halloween tradition, it is difficult for me to appreciate the holiday as one of the sacrosanct rites of American childhood.  Sadly, it has always looked much more to me like a gruesome celebration of death.  Call me a curmudgeon, but no luminous jack o’lanterns, shimmering skeleton backed costumes, or enticing mounds of corn candy have ever been able to convince me that Halloween is anything other than the commercial expression of America’s obsession with a culture of death. 

That was until last week.  As I passed a home in my neighborhood, where the splayed feet of a plastic corpse poked out of the dirt, I had a revelation. I finally understood that Halloween is not a celebration of death at all. It is death’s denial.  Americans are led, by a relentless assault of media images that promote youth and health, to believe that there is no finality to life.  We trivialize death and while mocking it, treat the dead as comic book characters.    Movies, video games, books and music of the last twenty years all offer evidence of a culture dismissing death as a fiction.  From Alice Cooper (who wrote that lovely paean to necromancy, I Love the Dead) to the The Mummy, we live in world where death has acquired the teasing patina of farce.  

While it may well be easy to dismiss such raillery as over-sensitive paranoia, it can’t be forgotten that Halloween has become an important calendar event, not just among young children but also among adults. For many, Halloween is a convenient and excusable means of revealing one’s dark side, discreetly hidden away at other times of the year.

And not simply for party-goers.  To the consternation of many, necromancy, black magic and witchcraft are gaining discouraging momentum in our society, enjoying a revival as a sub-culture that propagates, among other things, orgiastic sex, animal mutilation and devil worship.   A quick search of the Internet under the words ‘witchcraft’, ‘ paganism’ and ‘occult’ unearths thousands of skillfully developed websites, devoted to the transmission of the black arts. Among these websites a researcher will find dates for regular group meetings in every State, shops that sell sacrificial knives and prayer books for worship of the devil.     

Those who so innocently celebrate Halloween as an event catering for  children should also be aware of some of its less appealing antecedents.  Many of the surviving Catholic holy days commemorating the lives of saints, long ago absorbed the rituals and even theology of their surrounding pagan cultures.   Thus, St. Patrick Day, originally designed to commemorate the teachings of its martyred namesake, has leprechauns, drunkenness and other assorted foolishness crowding out the memory of that saint’s original teachings.    The unfortunate St. Valentine sees the Roman god Cupid exalted on his feast day with nary a thought dedicated to his personal legacy. 

Similarly corrupted was All Saints Day, (which became All Hallow’s Eve), a day set aside to commemorate  the many saints and martyrs who had no special annual remembrance of their own.  It may well have been the adoption of the practices of Druids in England who went door to door on the day asking for gifts and threatening spells for the ungenerous that lent Halloween its special form of corruption. Popularized in America in the 19th Century by immigrants, trick or treating soon became so hazardous to life and property that  by the 1890s a number of States were forced to legislate against the practice.  

Today Halloween trick or treating is a custom so readily accepted  that even churches and synagogues host Halloween parties.  Dressed as goblins, ghouls, witches and demons, our children roam the streets of our suburbs not thinking of this rite as anything other than a good time costume party.  Decades ago, perhaps, this might have been so.   But then children had a cushion of comfort provided by religious faith which affirmed the value and dignity of life.   But with the general collapse of  participatory religious life and the rise of  a vacuous death culture promoted by the entertainment industry which celebrates vampires, zombies, ghosts, demons other resuscitated life forms,  children are no longer recipients of such affirmation.  Instead, they are taught to regard life, not as a privilege to be revered and exalted, but as a manifest joy ride.   In contrast, those who have passed to the beyond are transformed into figures of fun, to be ridiculed for no longer having the ability to share in the general joviality.

Why, sensible voices should be asking, can’t we leave the dead alone?    Why is it necessary for us to figuratively exhume corpses and treat them with the kind of mockery we should reserve for the real life merchants of horror and death – Islamic suicide bombers and their sponsors who daily wreak carnage around the world?.  As I walk the streets of my suburb and see the elaborate lengths parents go to festoon their homes with cobwebs, fake graves, skeletons and other assorted symbols of death, I have to wonder why the same kind of effort is not invested in demonstrating  a converse loathing for the real life forces in the world which traffick in death and would gleefully dance on our  graves.

This doesn’t happen in liberal democracies around the world today because Islamic fundamentalists are not regarded as the true grave dancers.  That distinction belongs to corporate bosses, Wall Street traders, armament manufacturers and conservatives.    According to our houses of learning, our media groups and our entertainment industry, they are the demons with ghoulish intent – plotting to destroy our environment, vandalize our wealth and prosecute war when peace is so close at hand. This peculiar world view, in which those seeking to kill and destroy us are ignored while those attempting to protect us  or ensure our  safety and prosperity are vilified- is an affliction of the West that would roil the graves of the millions who fought in many wars to protect us.  

Perhaps that is the reason Halloween, year after year, leaves me with the creeps.  I look around and see a real life enactment of Plato’s  hypothetical cave dwellers who spend their existence viewing shadows projected on a wall, believing them to represent reality – and failing entirely to recognize that real life actually goes on outside the cave.    While true evil lurks in this world, stalking us and waiting for an opportune moment to strike, we spend our time mocking death, rather than reinforcing our faith in life and its profound purpose. 

If Western civilization loses its faith in life, it will succumb to those who have a fanatical faith in death.   Maybe that is not so obvious to the young children who will innocently knock on our doors this weekend.   But without reinforcing in those same children the notion that death is not a laughing matter and simultaneously affirming the supreme beauty and uniqueness of life, our future may indeed be quite grim. 

 

 


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