It’s hard to tell why some rules and laws exist. As a youth director, I depended on the theory that for every rule there was an idiot that caused its existence because s/he didn’t think about the effects of his/her actions. Why do we have to wear t-shirts? Because some girls didn’t know that “no spaghetti straps” meant them. Why do we have to have a checklist for cabin cleanup? Because some group didn’t take cabin cleaning to its intended purpose. Why do we leave at exactly 6:00SVT (Standard Verizon Time)? Because someone consistently shows up 24 minutes late and expects that we’ll stick around.
I fear that trick-or-treat might suffer from a similar epidemic.
Last night we took little H for a mini-treat excursion with his buddy Kyle to about 4 houses. Miss M went too, but no bucket in tow. You know, the lack-of-teeth thing. But as Jill doled out treats to several well-costumed youth, a few adolescents who were much too old to T’nT pounced upon Jill’s sweet nature and took advantage. (Why, you ask, do you think they were too old? Simple. They were too cool for costumes, a general pre-requisite for the treat).
Then there were the parents of children who were being toted all across the land in strollers, where clearly the adults in the family would consume a majority of the candy. Now I’m all for a small candy taxation from the young ones (after all, who purchased the costume?). I call it a delivery fee for getting them to the treating. But, in my oh-so-humble opinion, the number of treating adults using a small child as a candy pawn raised concern.
Because what happens when too many people take advantage of a system that depends on the generosity of a well-meaning neighborhood? Ordinances, that’s what happens. Soon there will be age and height restrictions, perhaps a candy-to-body-weight ratio and children will be required to report the loot before getting to consume one bite. And for all my luck, the authorities will only accept the Nerds and Sweettharts as payment for fine, leaving me with only a Bit ‘o Honey or those horrendous peanut butter kisses wrapped in black and orange wax paper, likely made in somebody’s basement, to skim from my kids’ loot. The injustices.
I’m saddened that we can’t depend on parents to make good decisions on appropriateness of participating in activities based on the kid and not based on “free stuff” or what’s in it from a personal gain standpoint. If you ask me (and you did, or you still wouldn’t be reading 5 paragraphs down), this is why our country has encountered so many problems as of late. We’d like to blame the elected officials, but in all honesty morality cannot – and should not – be legislated. We can’t force people to live in a way that seeks the social good over personal gain, and I kinda wonder if our country was founded on that principle. But because such a notion rules our thinking, we depend on other systems to legislate and decipher good and bad, right and wrong for us. Then, when behavior becomes obnoxious, we legislate it. A new rule.
I read up a bit today in a pre-voting effort. Sure there are distinct differences between candidates, but all want to give us jobs and make education better. They all want us to feel like we won’t pay more in taxes. And though I will still vote, I have difficulty believing that any of that matters in the trick-or-treat of it all. I can’t depend on my legislators to do everything in an effort to make my community a better place to live. I have to depend on my schools, churches, civic organizations but most of all my neighbors to do that (after, of course, I depend on myself to aid, or even lead, the effort). Everyone is griping and moaning about how the government is broken and politicians are crooked, but that’s because I think we’ve flawed our approach to the system and our expectations of its purpose. When we live up to our responsibility to contribute – and not just take – from a community, then we’ll begin to see progress.
Until then, we’ll just have to listen to awful political smear campaigns and buy extra Halloween candy.