Our little corner of the world has a well-deserved reputation for attracting a broad array of colorful characters, and it is generally acknowledged that Halloween represents the unofficial national holiday for the People’s Republic of Santa Cruz.
More than anywhere else (outside of the Playa at Burning Man, perhaps), people here generally express their freedom to dress any way they like, so much so that you often can’t tell on Halloween night who’s wearing a costume and who simply showed up wearing what they normally wear on a holiday that celebrates many of the things that define Santa Cruz. At its heart, Halloween celebrates diversity and freedom of expression, and the uniqueness of every individual. And alongside Dia de los Muertos, it also celebrates an attitude of laughing in the face of the things that scare us, which could certainly be seen as a Santa Cruz tradition as well.
So what are a few of these things that scare us?
At the worldwide level, the struggle for peace and economic stability for all nations continues, against the greater backdrop of overpopulation and global warming.
At the national level this season we have witnessed arguably the most vicious presidential race ever, revealing amongst other things an undercurrent of ignorance and hatred in our country that at least we in the People’s Republic had generally thought was behind us.
And here at home, the issues that scare many of us the most are the spiraling cost of living, led by housing prices and rents that have continued to climb at an alarming rate to the point that several of the local candidates are running on a platform advocating rent control and low-income housing.
It is hotly debated by both sides whether or not these kinds of measures are effective in the long run and both renters and property owners alike fear an outcome that they feel is opposite their interests. But when you consider the related issues of homelessness and the greater good and safety of everyone, nobody disagrees with the importance of finding a solution.
In the end, election cycles come and go, and life will go on either way. And in the meantime, during this holiday we can at least celebrate our diversity in the face of all of the adversity and do our best to make a positive difference for those whose lives we touch.