The Twizzler/Photo: David Hammond

Procuring the right candy for Halloween was a little more challenging this year, as we’d decided not to purchase any chocolate products that might have been produced by slave and/or child labor. There’s a lot of cocoa coming out of West Africa, and there’s also a lot of evidence that this cocoa is produced, in part, by children, some subjected to forced labor.

Finding chocolate that doesn’t come from one of the big manufacturers that may source from West Africa – Hershey, Mars, Nestle –  is not easy, and it is definitely more expensive. We bought less than we probably should have, so we ran out a little earlier than usual.

Turns out, we had maybe 250 trick-or-treaters come to our door. We ran out of candy early, and Carolyn started giving away tea, some single-package sausages, money, anything, all the while apologizing profusely, “We ran out of candy. We don’t have any more candy.” Hearing that, one child reached into his bag and handed her a Twizzler, “Here. Take this, lady.”

Hearing this story, I was touched by that simple act of kindness and generosity. Being kind and generous, gentle and friendly, seems even more important today than it was just a few weeks ago.

Whether or not you support President-Elect Trump, I think we’d all have to admit (perhaps proudly): he’s tough. This very toughness is, I believe, one of the reasons that we Americans elected him. Many of his supporters seem to believe that namby-pamby, bleeding heart, weak-willed liberals have been too easy on immigrants, Muslims, and others who they believe are threatening the American way of life. Part of the response to that perceived threat is to be tougher, harder, stronger, and, it seems, angrier.

This climate of anger, whether legitimate or not, is creating a tendency to attack the perceived opposition, verbally or physically. Hate crimes are on the rise.

I am not judging those people who supported Trump, nor am I judging supporters of Clinton or Sanders who are also venting their anger over what they may feel was a rigged election. What I am doing is taking every opportunity to be particularly friendly and polite toward my fellow citizens.  If someone cuts me off in traffic, I swallow my impulse to shout out a suggestion as to what he or she can do with him- or herself. If someone holds the door for me, I make a point of smiling and thanking them. If I catch the eye of a stranger while we walk down the street, I tip my hat.

As will no doubt be confirmed by many who post comments on this site, I’m obviously a total bastard (one person has even compared me to Hitler; really, it happened). However, in these times particularly, it seems best, in the immortal words of Bill and Ted, to be “excellent to each other.” So that’s my approach; I’m not saying it should be yours, but it doesn’t seem that it could possibly hurt.

The Twizzler that young man gave to Carolyn on Halloween is on my desk now and that’s where it’s going to stay. It’s a talisman, a reminder to resist the terror and tenor of the times and, whenever possible, to perform kindnesses and, in what might seem like nearly hopeless times, to hope that kindness catches on.

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David Hammond

David Hammond, a corporate communications consultant and food journalist living in Oak Park, Illinois, is a founder and moderator of LTHForum.com, the 8,500 member Chicago-based culinary chat site. David...

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