“Business and personal ethics are no longer an integral part of global corporate cultures. The reality is that ethics has been dumbed down to mean compliance. Compliance is generally seen as a “back office,” ineffectual division of a corporation or investment bank. Managers simply don’t want to know of ethical dilemmas or failures. The new normal is to simply know just enough to stay out of courtrooms and, potentially, jail. Best practices, doing the right thing, or building lasting bonds of trust have become reduced to an idealistic goal, not the actual reality.”
Anoka Minnesota puts on a huge Halloween celebration every year. While I have not had the opportunity to participate, I have heard about it and driven through the town during Halloween week. It’s a big deal. Really. Big. Deal.
Halloween and Community
While browsing my public library for books on the upcoming Halloween holiday, I ran across this local history text and found a few fun quotes about Anoka and Halloween. Perhaps the most striking aspect to the history of this celebration is the amount of community building that it provides – even during difficult times like the great depression.
“For most children in the early decades of the twentieth century, Halloween was a night for troublemaking. The children of Anoka and their friends from the surrounding communities took this idea to a whole new level.”
“On the morning after Halloween, 1919, early risers in Anoka, MN were greeted by an astonishing sight. Cows, it seemed, had taken over the town! Bovines were browsing everywhere...in September of 1920 the citizens of Anoka turned to influential men in the community to see how to best avoid a repeat of the previous year’s trouble.“
“The following decade of the economic depression that devastated the nation affected Anoka, but the hard times did not dampen their spirits when it came to Halloween. The 1930s brought a series of new events to the Halloween celebration, including an activity that acted as a form of group therapy, the burning of Old Man Depression.“
In the interest of fairness, I must mention the tragic events leading up to the Anoka Halloween parade controversy. In 2012, bullying of GLBT students in the Anoka schools lead to several suicides and a lawsuit, which made big headlines. It also spurred the creation of an Anti-Bullying task force and the non-profit Justin’s Gift. Unfortunately, Justin’s Gift was denied entry into the parade of 2012. According to the group’s website Justin’s Gift is hosting a Halloween party (no mention of the parade) in 2014.
“Justin’s Gift still had a presence at the 2012 Grand Day Parade. The organization had a booth set up in the parking lot of a church on the parade route where they sold t-shirts, buttons, bracelets and other items. Floats from other cities also showed their solidarity with the group by mounting signs next to their waving princesses that read, “We Support Justin’s Gift.”“
“Justin’s Gift was able to proudly walk among its community members in the 2013 Anoka Halloween Parade. The group was met with cheers and support from onlookers.”
“I strive for complete honesty on the page; however, I have no faith that recollection ever produces an absolute truth. Memory is never perfect, never static, and as far as I can tell, it evolves constantly with age. I’m grateful for that.”
-Animal, Mineral, Radical: Essays on Wildlife, Family, and Food
“It was a small thing, insignificant beyond notice, that the fall of the House of Lilterwess had severed Emil’s soul, separating the scholar from the soldier, leaving his heart on the steps of the library while his duty called him away to war.“
-Fire Logic (Elemental Logic)
“We will not be silent. We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will not leave you in peace!”
—from the fourth White Rose leaflet
“On February 22, 1943, Sophie Scholl, her brother Hans, and Christoph Probst were executed just hours following their trial. There would be more arrests, imprisonments, and executions of those who had been involved, but as of that sad day the work of the White Rose, as it had been, was no more.“
-Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue (Women of Action)
“There was once a frog who found a book. He wished it was a book about boats and that he was a pirate sailing the seven seas. But it was just an old book of spells, and he was just a small grey frog.”
Spells by Emily Gravett
A little something to discuss:
- Frogs and Magic (for kids), University of Wisconsin Sea Grant
“In my mother’s day, choice meant three makes of automobiles (if you had the money), one brand of tennis shoe, two brands of coffee, and marriage at eighteen. Today, the definition of choice would not fit on this page, nor in this volume…But this is one of the accomplishments my generation has made: the overwhelming ability to choose. Because I live it, I have never truly recognized it, and recognizing it now, I want only to be able to deny that it was ever otherwise, because we all want to believe, in America, that our fates are cut by chisels we hold in our own hands, that circumstances do not limit, that time and culture do not dictate. But they do.”
-Animal, Mineral, Radical: Essays on Wildlife, Family, and Food
Positive change happens and is sustainable when it is organic, when it grows from the bottom up.“
-Change with Confidence: Answers to the 50 Biggest Questions that Keep Change Leaders Up at Night
Every Halloween there are all sorts of kids (and adults) who decide to put on a work or career related costume. Firemen, doctors, police officers, pilots and members of the military are among the most common.
The Halloween Debate
Every Halloween there are schools that struggle with the holiday celebration at school. While some schools dive into the secular celebration with full community support and have a wonderful time playing with costumes, passing out the annual list of trick-or-treat safety tips, hosting small parties in classrooms and putting on a school dance (or fundraiser or…?). Other schools have a harder time due to community concerns about everything from the possibility of children (and others) playing with evil spirits to inappropriate and disrespectful representation of an actual religious holiday celebrated by large numbers of people in the United States.
For the purposes of this and other posts, I use the word ‘Halloween‘ in reference to the annual secular celebration and the word ‘Samhain‘ (pronounced SAH-win) in reference to the religious holiday celebrated during the same time period.
Regardless of your religious beliefs, the secular holiday can be an excellent time to connect with your local community while having some fun. It can also be an opportunity for career exploration.
School Project Ideas
If you are struggling with a school debate over the holiday or a personal conflict over how best to respect your own beliefs (and fears) while participating in the secular aspects of the holiday, then working with the younger members of your family/community to identify and create career-based costumes might help to establish some reasonable (and comfortable) common ground for everyone involved.
School teachers are both welcome and encouraged to take this basic idea and fully expand on it in way that I am not capable. In fact, I would love to see your comments (and links) added below.
That said, the basic idea is to lay out a career-exploration school project that culminates in a holiday event (e.g.: classroom party) where all students present their work while wearing costumes based on the careers they researched. Of course, there will be students who will research a common career (e.g.: businessman) and then show up in a Halloween modified version of their career costume (e.g.: Wall Street Zombie) – schools, teachers and parents will have to decide for themselves whether or not this is acceptable.
Worker and Career Costumes
The following costumes are examples of the kinds of things kids (and adults) can put together for a job, career and/or worker (unionized or not) theme. Additional ideas can be found in my previous posts about astronauts and profiling.
“I force myself to watch without judgment, philosophy soon falls away, the meaning of the animal quashed by the actual animal, moving, through the same world as me.“
“I say it’s the animals I’m drawn toward, but these sightings usually bring me closer to humans…”
“…proximity to wild things makes me feel feral—incautious and frisky and willing to gamble on what I cannot prove. And proximity to wild things makes me feel tame—glad I don’t have to hunt for every meal, eager to hunker next to a fire on a cold night.“
-Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods