Saturday, January 8, 2011
Should We Fear Ghosts?
As I begin researching my second book, I have to wonder why ghosts have become associated with fear and terror. Almost all of the people I interview who have had encounters with ghosts describe them as harmless and sometimes even beneficial. The ghosts are scary in the same way bugs are scary. They don't harm anyone, but they are scary because we have learned to fear them. They are scary because they are unknown or just creepy, but I haven't encountered many true ghost stories in which the ghost itself is malevolent. In fact, most of the really true scary supernatural stories I've gathered seem to be more drive by malevolent, nonghost spirits or demons. They don't seem to be connected to a deceased person, but rather to some other kind of hostile entity.
Many of the true ghost stories I've read step beyond being just neutral and are actually benevolent. I heard one story in which the ghost protected a home owner from a burglar and another in which a ghost protected their child from a fall. It seems to me that ghosts are like living people, they can be good, neutral, and occasionally bad. So why do we naturally fear them so much? Should we fear ghosts at all? I've spoke with people who say they've lived in haunted houses for years and never had any problems, just odd occurrences. My family has a house that has been filled with odd, ghostly occurrences for the better part of a century and it has never bothered anyone. It does keep you up at night, but it is never scary. So why are we so naturally afraid of ghosts? Is it a fear of the unknown or a fear of death or some cross between the two and will there be a point when that fear fades? I've never really been afraid of ghosts, so I can't entirely answer these questions on my own, but I believe that ghosts shouldn't be feared unless they've been shown to be malevolent.