Hallowe'en: the day, or rather night, we poke fun at superstition. We dress up like witches, ghosts, hobgoblins; and think with superior pity of the dark ages when people believed in their reality. Our minds say "nonsense". But if our emotions are not stirred, we are simply not human. Of course, we promptly pounce on our personal spooks with our sense of humor. Back go the spooks to the dark recesses of oblivion, where they watch for a chance to catch us off our guard. As someone says, the human mind is a haunted house. Insidious ghosts inhabit our inner selves. The redeeming fact, however, is that the good ghosts balance the bad ones; that is if we are reasonably sane. These ghosts are so much a part of us that it is most difficult to identify them, particularly in ourselves. Some people make such a specialty of self-analysis that they make an awful mess of it; they become unsocial clams. Introspection is necessary to self development, however; but we cannot do it alone. If we test ourselves by examining our reflections in the mirror of other personalities, we escape the damnable errors of self-conceit. Now, what are these ghosts? A recent Literary Digest reviews a new book "Be Glad You're Neurotic", by Louis E. Bisch, and lists fifty questions you can ask yourself to determine how neurotic you are. I know nothing about the book, but the list does provide me some ghosts. Here are a few: Are you afraid to meet people? Do you indulge in self-pity? Are you given to self-accusation? Are you quick to make excuses for yourself? Are you overconscientious? Any feelings of impending danger? Self-conscious. Do you exaggerate trifles? Continually dissatisfied? Have you a dread of death? Do you find it difficult to relax? Have you any physical symptoms the doctors claim are imaginary?--And there are a lot more. I am reminded of the old Quaker who remarked "All the world is crazy except thee and me; and even thee is a little queer?"
Just to prove my point, I shall have to ask you to make allowances for that last paragraph. I admit it is terrible. But I have promised myself not to make this column a burden to myself; and rewriting is such a bore. The trouble is I made up my mind not to listen to the ballyhoo at the end of the political campaign, because mob psychology has always been distasteful to me. But somebody tuned in Al Smith last night (Saturday), and by eleven o'clock, I had listened to the whole caboodle of them, as was sitting on the edge of my chair rooting like a rabid football fan. Perhaps that is that Bisch means when he says "Be glad you're neurotic".
American political campaigns are, with a few notable exceptions, about as sporting as the game of baseball. Now I do not wish to smear this good old game, for it is a grand spectacle and provides a harmless outlet for public emotions. But the keynote of baseball is not sportsmanship; its fans are intolerant partisans, who enjoy an opponent's error and bombard the umpires with pop bottles. Our national character is likewise reflected in our enjoyment of our ridiculous pugilism. Partisanship is justified in collegiate football, and even alumni of dear old Podunk concede the excellence of opponents. The Englishman says "Jolly well hit, old chappie" if an opposing cricketeer socks the ball. Tennis is usually the cleanest of all sports. It is hard fought, and the opponent gets the benefit of all doubts. Handball and volleyball are patterned in the same spirit. Lacrosse combines the team play of football, the open game of baseball, the passing of basketball, and the daring of hockey; it is ideal from the spectator's standpoint, but gruelling to players. They tell me ice hockey is a thriller. All of which is far removed from politics, and that suits me.
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