Oct 2022


Halloween haunting season is swiftly approaching, and it’s giving me pause. But not because I’m afraid of ghosts.

While October 31 has historically been a day I look forward to so I can design costumes and hand out the best candy on the block, real-life haunting is getting to me.

I’m not talking about sheet-covered ghosts and black-hatted witches. I’m talking about a growing trend of real-life torment: slammed doors on old friendships, disregarded emails from people we know, and avoiding people who used to be important to us because they might have a different view of the world.

I’m talking about cancel culture, booing, and ghosting.

I’m talking about slandering, doxxing, and public abuse.

It’s a scary state of affairs.

* * *

Much of this human humiliation happens on public stages by people who don’t know each other. If we’re lucky not to be recipients of the venom, we’re still observers through the media lens, watching the hazing happen in real time.

Black and white world views polarize us and oversimplify deep and complex issues. People who misspeak are condemned without the possibility of nuance, discussion, understanding, or middle ground. Humans doing the best they can are hit up with requests or slammed down for not doing enough. A handful of celebrities even choose to be outlandish to garner attention or because they are genuinely oblivious about their impact on others.

Sadly though, the ghoulish behavior isn’t limited to the public stage.

Every day people are being haunted, too.

I’ve received some “hate mail” recently.

The communications came with vitriol, the senders angry about decisions I’ve had to make to keep Parlay House financially viable or calling out my choices of speakers as not keeping with their view of our organization. They questioned my motives rather than asking about what drove the decisions. They assumed the worst and criticized me without knowing what was really happening.

Hate hurts.

* * *

Shunning the people we don’t understand is not new behavior, of course.

English author Mary Shelley created one of our favorite fictional haunted characters in 1818 when she was only 18 years old. In her story, Frankenstein, a “creature” birthed in a lab by a mad scientist, breaks out of his restraints and wanders the world alone. In his early years, he becomes “eloquent and educated,” rescuing a young girl from a river and befriending a blind man living in the forest. But as the world “sees” him and fears his differences, he is shunned, misunderstood, feared, and rejected. His response is to rail back at his creator and society, and with both sides misunderstanding each other, the tale ends in tragedy.

I like Frankenstein as an analogy for where we are now but think this is the perfect moment to write a better ending.

Instead of seeing each other as different, how about putting more WE into Halloween? We can look past disguises, costumes, and illusions and into the truths we all share and differences we can learn to understand.

We’ll then roll right into the season of Thanksgiving, which can become a time not only for giving thanks but for giving forgiving, too.

And then there is Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and more – all holidays to look at values, teachings, and higher powers. The best gifts of the season will likely be the moments of coming together and the chance to understand each other better, even if we don’t ultimately see eye to eye.

Before you know it, Valentine’s day will be upon us, and it will be the perfect moment to roll out more love.

It may not be as easy as it sounds, but reuniting is still possible.

In the words of the character inspiring my Halloween costume this year, “The power was always within you, my dear.”

That, of course, is Glinda the Good Witch.

* * *

Share it Small: Is someone in your life being dissed or dismissed? It’s the perfect time to be their ally. Reach out to them. Stand up for them. Let them know you see the whole them and not only the sound bite that’s biting them.

Share it Big: Did you fly off of the (broom) handle and treat someone unfairly? It’s never too late to apologize. If you flew off in public, undo the spell in public as well. As we learned from the research we did for The Parlay Effect, the world is watching and will likely follow your lead.

Share it with Me: We all learn from each other. If you have had a revelation, a breakthrough, an insight, or a triumph, we can learn from you so please tell me about it here! I’m collecting stories of these cascades of good for ongoing community building and to track The Parlay Effect in action. I would love nothing better than to hear how you lifted, were lifted, or observed something in others that made you feel good and recognize your power.