Dennis O’Neil: Trick Or What?

65846We haven’t gotten visits from trick-or-treaters for quite a few years now. We live at the top of a pretty steep hill on a block that has only two houses facing the street, no businesses, not much light. Not a lot here to attract apprentice ghosts and goblins. If any do show up, we’ll give them comic books.

None of what a friend of mine calls “sugary treats” – and when she uses the term, she isn’t being complimentary. Time was when we did hit the drugstore and stock up on slimy and gooey stuff, your chocolate bars and your jelly beans and gummy bears and gum drops and all the rest of the Willy Wonka wet dream. Our consciences may have a protesting yip or two, but the yips weren’t loud and we could pretty much ignore them. Oh, okay… we knew that what we were putting into the kids’ bags wasn’t good for them, or anyone else, but, well, surely a little toxin wouldn’t do any harm, or at least not much harm, and if the young’uns parents didn’t mind, why should we be old grumpy-heads and anyhow, passing confections to the young and innocent is a tradition.

You gonna argue with tradition, grumpy-head?

Probably not. We’re pretty big on tradition ‘round these parts, and so is every other civilized society that I know of. We won’t even guess at the reasons here. We’ll only note that we humans seem to take comfort and maybe a sense of security from repeating rituals at prescribed times and places and anything that bestows comfort and security will get a smile from me. Hey,, it’s a tough life!

But… can traditions outlive their usefulness? Have some of them already done so? Can they be replaced with something more appropriate?

About this sugar/candy problem: Let us begin by making the painful admission that all but the most diehard smokers had to make a decade or two back – tobacco is very bad for the human body. (The guy in the corner, the one who’s gasping and wheezing and turning red, is shaking his head and trying to say no! I’ll assume that the rest of you are giving me permission to continue.)

Tobacco is bad for you and so, alas, is sugar. A quick rundown of some of your components that can be hurt by it:

  • Teeth: consumption of processed food containing sugar cost Americans 54 billion dollars in dental bills every year.
  • Heart: sugar raises levels of triglicerides and cholesterol, both of which are enemies of your heart.
  • Liver: sugar stresses this important organ.
  • Obesity: sugar is full of empty calories and encourages users to eat more.
  • Addiction: the stuff creates abusers.

It won’t be hard for you to find other information on this topic. Go get some.

So, Halloween night: Do you really want to give some neighbor kid a substance that is harmful in so many ways and might be the beginning of a life-long and possibly lethal addiction?

Maybe we should begin shopping around for another tradition.