Can we trust our neighbors?


Telling Scary Stories

It’s Halloween.

And there will almost certainly be razor blades in your kids’ candy tonight.

Crazy people are on the loose at every corner waiting to prey on your kids. They are going to bake razor blades into cookies because they are singularly focused on bringing pain and suffering to the world. The world is crumbling around us and no one can be trusted.

That’s not what it was like when I was growing up. Back then, we could trust one another. Kids could ride around town on their bikes. We’d feel safe accepting baked goods from our neighbors.

But beyond a shadow of a doubt, the world is less safe now than it was two or three decades ago.

No – it isn’t.

Yes, there are some dangerous people who very well may want to do harm to others. We should all be reasonably cautious and aware of this possibility.

But the broader story that we are less safe now than in past generations is just factually inaccurate.

The Truth About Our Safety

We tell ourselves that back in the day we could trust baked goods on Halloween. But today is chaos. The world isn’t to be trusted.

We tell ourselves these stories, especially on Halloween.

Only eat packaged candy! If your kids eat candies and baked goods prepared by people in your neighborhood you are putting your children directly in the face of danger! We can’t trust our communities.

We tell ourselves these stories and hold them with confidence and certainty. But we actually hold these beliefs in spite of data and evidence to the contrary.

In truth, there is about half as much crime in the United States as there was 25 years ago. Both violent and property crimes have dropped dramatically. We are safer than we were 30 years ago.


The only thing that has increased is our perception of the amount of crime. Amid this drastic decline in crime, the majority of people think crime is increasing! In fact, over the last 15 years the proportion of us that think crime is increasing is higher than before, even as crime rates continue to drop.


What’s Behind These Scary Stories

So what’s really going on? Why do we tell ourselves these false stories?

Well, for starters, there is simply more media coverage and awareness. You hear about one razor blade story in a country of over 300 million people and all of a sudden it’s happening everywhere. News didn’t spread as fast 30 years. Now we have access to all of the horror stories as if they are happening right next door.

But I think there’s more to it

It must be noted that the practice of only eating packaged candy, of not trusting our neighbors, plays directly into the hands of large corporations. Here is what they are telling you:

You cannot trust your community. You can only trust corporations. Only eat candy that is packaged in plastic and brought to you by your friendly multi-national corporations. You CANNOT trust your neighbors. A local collaborative economy is unsafe and wildly irresponsible to your kids.

We are being responsible by not trusting our neighbors. We are doing our children a favor by piling up even more plastic wrappers in a landfill somewhere.

What message does this send to our next generations? What future do we create for ourselves when we tell children not to trust their own neighbors?

Building Community Through Halloween

What if instead we told the next generation that we can trust our neighbors? What if Halloween became about exchanging goods and treats that we made ourselves? What if Halloween became about connecting with our neighbors (AND scaring the living bejeezus out of them)?

What if we spread the (true) story that our world is now safer than ever?