Today is a day in which majority of sheeple recalls that they have someone in their family or circles who died. This day is so important that it is even a National Holiday in Poland, with shops closed and people ‘celebrating’ it in a form of visit to the graveyard and doing all sorts of stuff – from lighting a candle to appeasing to ghosts by offering food.
Feed the ghost
Yes, the superstition in Poland is still strong, even though the country is considered to be mainly Catholic and even more so – despite the fact that the Catholic Church officially condemns such practices (in practice they often try to get piggyback ride on said practices). So you should not be overly surprised if you see people leaving food on the tombstone so that the ‘ghosts’ are not offended. It actually is deeply rooted in an ‘ancient’ Slavic fest of Dziady – since the Catholic Church could not win with the superstitious plebeians – the pope decided to incorporate the fest into the Christian religion (a common tactic, including Christmas).
So now we have this quasi-christian, pagan rooted thing in which people drive hundreds of kilometers just to visit a graveyard and lit a candle (that originally was supposed to lead ghosts to Nawie – Slavic world of the dead). A day in a year that supposedly should make you think about the death and reminiscent about all your dead relatives…
Which is really absurd to me. I think about the death roughly twice a week. I think about my dead relatives or friends even more often. I don’t need a special day to travel to distant places (we are a mobile society right now, contrary to what was happening centuries ago). I don’t need to die on the way as 36 people last year. I don’t need to risk coming across all the 2 000 drunk drivers (also last year) because apparently the only way they know how to celebrate their deceased relatives is to get wasted (surprisingly – the tradition is thousands of years old).
I find the whole thing ridiculous. If you really care about remembering your relatives why don’t you do it Japan-style? They have a very deep cult of ancestry – in many houses there is a special little shrine (quite often the only room in the home with tatami mats) with pictures of your relatives, quite often with an urn containing their ashes, some incense to burn while praying to them, etc. THAT’s the style to do it – wherever you need, wherever you want – close to you… not one time ‘fest’ which is only done because everyone else done it so you’d feel bad not doing it…
Say hi to uncle
People usually do travel to places where most of their relatives are buried. Many times we didn’t even know those people – they were dead long before we were born – but we still lit a candle and sometimes pray. Which makes me ask – why? Why is it that there are a lot of abandoned graves, or that we don’t care about our extended family deceased relatives, or even our uncle of an uncle etc?
Our lives are like stones thrown into a water of reality pond. Some of those stones are big and heavy, some of them are light and small. There are stones that once thrown into that pond do not make many waves and if anything – they are small and vanish pretty quickly. There are also stones that make huge long-lasting waves that are visible even millennium after they’ve been thrown. And there is a whole range in between.
Mediocre, bland lives won’t make a difference to many people. Other will change many for years. The amount of waves we do in this world is not entirely up to us – the complicated web of intertwined dependencies between human beings as units, as groups and societies, between real world and abstract entities existing entirely on the intellectual level of the species will all count. But what we do can also matter. Whether we decide to help others in any tangible way (prayer is not one) or not will make a difference in what impact we will have on the world. And once we realize that we are a 100 000th generation and there is probably be another 100 000 generations to come – whether we improve our world, even just a tiny bit, suddenly starts to matter.
What can I do…
We are inheriting the world from countless of our predecessors, we will be leaving this world to countless of our successors. And it is good to realize that what we inherit is not a world that was broken by evil people – what we inherit is a result of collective work of countless people of good will, of every religion, every creed, every country, race and political view ever devised. Whatever good every single one person of that mass had done – it is thanks to that we live in a world that we live in.
Granted – things are not perfect. We are facing serious challenges, there are serious problems causing unbearable suffering, pain and injustice. But it is not because of that that the world is as it is. Those problems surely break a lot, they dishearten a lot of people, they make us behave selfish and even harm others (willfully or not) . If it were not for those problems the world would look totally different, but if it were not for those problems there probably also wouldn’t be us. It is not a justification of evil in any way – it is just a simple realization that what we describe as ‘evil’ is necessary component of the reality and even those things can actually bring good results.
E pluribus unum
So in a great part it is up to us to actually make a difference, even a small one. When many small waves combine their power – a real monster is born that can break steel ships in the open ocean. So do not neglect any good deed you might do. DO it regardless of the award, recognition, appreciation or any other thing. Do it because you can. Do it, because the world needs your wave to be as big and long lasting as possible. And because we need our waves to combine and really make a difference.
Once we do that – All Hallows won’t be a day to cry over our lost lives – it will be a day to celebrate our contribution to the world, regardless of how small it was.
My dead relatives had a huge impact on me. I appreciate the love they gave me, which made it possible for me to become a better human being. I appreciate their lives that they had, I appreciate the joy as well as pain that we shared. For me All Hallows is every day of the year as I know for a fact that many people’s lives made me as I am now. I don’t need any single day to recall that – I am constantly aware of it, grateful for that and I ‘lit the candle’ by striving to live as good life as I can. This adds the mass and the size to my stone – which is not really exclusively mine. Waves made by others contribute to waves that I will make. Which I hope will contribute further down the road.
So I leave pagan rituals to those who are focused on the fact that someone is gone so much, that they don’t recall how that someone lived his/her life and how that someone influenced others. For me – I celebrate my deceased relatives in a form of my life.