Today, the rituals of Halloween will unfold, man's effort to express and illuminate the fears that pervade our lives. The greatest of these, of course, is the fear of death, unique to the human species; there are other fears that are also buried in our collective consciousness, such as fear of the dark, which stems from our limited capacity to function at night and the threat that nocturnal predators posed to early human tribes.
But most of our fears are learned, the products of terrifying childhood experiences or directly ingrained by our parents, teachers and religious leaders. Fear of wild creatures, such as spiders, snakes or mice, usually stems from the anxiety that they produced in our trusted guardians while fear of the unfamiliar, often manifest as racism and intolerance, arises from the influence of prejudiced and ignorant authority figures. Perhaps most pervasive are the fears ingrained by religion, causing us to loathe many of the traits that make us human; indeed, we come to fear the repercussions of our innate human behaviour, expecting eternal punishment at the hands of a vindictive God.
The fears that we expose this evening are almost all figments of the human mind, born of anxiety, ignorance and irrational thought. Unfortunately, they are reinforced by the mysticism of human culture and, in many cases, continue to threaten our peace and happiness. Fear is not the tool of the devil; rather, it is the tool of priests, politicians and all who strive to control our lives.