Don’t be afraid of the ghosts
Philippine Daily Inquirer
It’s the seventh month of the Chinese year, and that means Filipinos are freaking out about ghosts, said Michael Tan. “Ghost month phobia” has migrated here from China, even among those who aren’t ethnic Chinese. Superstition says that hungry, cranky ghosts from the underworld “are let loose to roam the earth” this lunar month. While the phantoms can be soothed to some extent with offerings of liquor, food, and cigarettes, they will still cause havoc. That means Filipinos won’t plan anything important for this month, be it longdistance travel, a business launch, a wedding, or even a surgical procedure if it can possibly be postponed.
This year, people are being ridiculously literal in their fear, blaming several recent gruesome murders of teenagers on the ghosts. In fact, the myth probably came to us through Buddhism and is meant as a parable about karma. Those who live lives of greed “turn into ghosts with insatiable hunger.” We’re supposed to take “a moral lesson” from the ghost month, not get hysterical from “an irrational fear of the dead.” Here’s an idea: We should use this time to consider how to rein in “the insatiable greed of the living ghosts, the corrupt and the power hungry” who encourage vigilante killings. That might actually make us safer.