A SCARY story for you. Trick or treat?
Not so long ago there was a beautiful young woman who lived a comfortable life somewhere in the urban sprawl of a modern metropolis. She enjoyed her life, had a good job, and wonderful relationships. She loved everything about modern life: the fashion, the food, the accessibility to everything in the world at her fingertips.
One day, she was given a gift. She was told that this tool was harmless, except that it would help her to feel better about herself if she was ever sad or upset. If she faced any challenges in her life, she could bring it out of the closet, unseen, use it, and in an instant, she would feel better than before. It could transform any negative thoughts she had about herself with the push of a button.
At first, she didn’t understand it – and she put the gift in the back of the closet. Until one day when she went to put on her favorite little black dress for a cocktail party, and it didn’t zip. “What the-!” she thought. “I wore this only a few months ago! Must be all those extra mocha-frappa-ccino thingies I’ve been drinking to stay focused at work.” With that thought, she pulled out some black pants and a cute sweater and got dressed for the party. Not happy with herself, and feeling a little less than fabulous, she remembered the gift at the back of the closet.
She took it out, pressed the button, and within seconds, she felt a little better. Surprised with the effects of this little wonder, she decided to put it in her purse and bring it with her. “Couldn’t hurt,” she thought.
Throughout the evening, as her friends arrived in their cutest dresses, she felt herself shrinking inside. Mad at herself for being unable to wear her cutest dress, she resorted to pushing the little button again and again throughout the night.
Over the course of the next few months, the little button was never far from her side. She brought it with her everywhere: the gym, the store, work, events. This little gift never left her side – even as her friends started to pull away from her. “They’re just jealous,” she thought. And her finger would automatically slide to the button once more.
Eventually, her beauty began to wane, and she found herself spending more and more time with people she had previously thought ugly or rude. But now, she gave it no mind. They were her new friends, and they liked her, thought she was funny. With time, however, even her clothes, job and home gave way to the little “gift” she had received. Her world had become dark, covered in cobwebs and dust, and the little button no longer worked. It only brought her more and more misery with each press.
Finally, she couldn’t take it any longer, and she decided to throw the button away, assuming it was broken. “It must not be working,” she said, and she walked out her door. As she approached the nearest trash can on her street, she pulled the button out of her pocket, ready to hurl it into the depths of decaying banana peels and old coffee cups.
“You can’t throw that in there!” She heard someone yell from the corner. She stopped.
As the man approached her, he looked disheveled, dirty and … homeless. ‘Why am I listening to this ugly homeless man’ ran through her mind in a flash, her finger on the depressed button. “Who are you to tell me what I can and can’t do? You’re homeless! And, and dirty! And you probably do drugs or drink or….or steal!” Still pressing the button.
But the homeless man came nearer, and for a moment she could see starlight in his eyes. Her finger softened, and he reached for her hand. Without thinking, she placed the button in his outstretched hand, as he gently took her arm and walked her to the nearest bench.
“Thank you,” he said. “You’ve done a wonderful thing. You’ve just given yourself a gift.”
“But that WAS the gift. And it stopped working.”
“No,” he continued. “This….This is a weapon.” She stared blankly at him. “Let me explain.
This button is the worst weapon of all. It destroys lives, steals joy and demolishes love, faith and hope. It’s stronger than any chemical weapon they can create. Like a gas it’s invisible and toxic, but also contagious. This weapon has been known to build entire industries on lies and falsehood, and wipe out generations of relationships in the process. This little button was killing you, and you never even knew.”
“But – but…. I don’t understand. Why? What is it?”
With that, the gentle man stood up, dismantled the button, destroying the individual pieces, and threw them in the garbage never to be assembled again. He returned to the bench, quietly sat down next to the beautiful woman, placed his hand on her hands and softly said,