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A Scary-Good Halloween

29 October 2008 One Comment

Commentary by Mary Liston Liepold

October 31 is Halloween in the Americas, in parts of Western Europe, and, thanks to the reach of both Christianity and US pop culture, in many other places across the globe. In the church calendar All Hallows’ E(v)en(ing), known in Latin cultures as the Day of the Dead, was the eve of the feast of All Saints. It was a time when the boundaries between the realms of life and death seemed temporarily dissolved; when the dead might return home and death itself might be domesticated, even played with.

And so we have the familiar witches and goblins, along with the ballerinas and the firefighters, the superheroes of both genders, the Obamas and the Sarah Palins—among the most-asked-for masks this year—and so much more. Children spend weeks deciding, then changing their minds, tickled by the scary options and tugged by the chance to try on a possible adult identity. My seven-year-old granddaughter in Hawaii (whose family happens to own a horse) found the perfect compromise this year. She’ll be a zombie cowgirl.

Since 1950, some of the fun has had a global dividend: Trick or Treat for UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund. Kids can help other kids and still collect belly-busting amounts of candy, with no difficult decision required. According to the website, carrying a UNICEF box on their Halloween rounds is the first volunteer experience many children have, and it raises over $140 million each year. Like grandmas-at-a-distance everywhere, I can hardly wait to see those Halloween pictures. And I’ll scan them for the UNICEF box.

I just put my own picture on, opposing all efforts to make Muslims into Halloween images of bogeyman and “terrorist.” People of good will hold strongly differing opinions on the boycott strategy that Jewish Voice for Peace and the Presbyterian Church adopted some years ago, but this invitation strikes me as impeccable.

Our founder Patricia Smith Melton’s answer to the bogeyman strategy is Sixty Years, Sixty Voices, hot off the press and in our offices this week. The 60 women the book presents are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Druze, and secular. Their diversity and individuality are as remarkable as their unanimity on the central theme: that peace is possible. Contact for your own copy.

This week, as every week, the news is full of scary stories: floods displacing thousands in Yemen; brave leaders of the organization Women of Zimbabwe Arise denied bail; the Pentagon taking 54% of US discretionary spending even without counting the ongoing wars. And it’s full of inspiring ones too. Today, October 29, is the 40th birthday of the National Organization for Women (NOW), founded here in Washington, DC, in 1966. That first meeting, which elected Betty Friedan as the organization’s first president, had just 30 attendees.

Peace people and people of faith understand that the dark scary evening is followed by the feast, and that death never has the last word . . . especially not when women’s voices are lifted up.

About the Author

Mary Liepold is the Editor-in-Chief at Peace X Peace. To reach Dr. Liepold, email
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One Comments to “A Scary-Good Halloween”
  1. therese lukenge says:

    i am very happy for the americn election that bring a big change of mentality in american people but because america is the challenge of all, the women in africa need also the change, they need peace and they ask you to do something for them specialy in eastern of congo in the Obama politic

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