There’s an old adage that says, “It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” The quote has been attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Adlai Stevenson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and even Confucius. Some researchers have found that the first written appearance of the phrase occurred in 1907 in a collection of sermons by William L. Watkinson.
Regardless of who gets credit for coining the phrase, there’s a great deal of merit in the call to constructive action. Even small actions can dispel the darkness of fear or hatred.
Today, I see a lot of people cursing the darkness. Many people are facing difficult times, whether it’s the darkness of a struggling economy, medical issues, work stress, or anxiety caused by the evening news. And we feel powerless, forgetting that we have the power to light a candle.
It is all too easy to fall prey to the constant negativity that bombards us. The news media, social media, and our colleagues often share doom and gloom that can overwhelm us. We can become convinced that hatred and division are the norm. Sometimes we need to take a break from the continuous onslaught of bad news for the sake of our own sanity.
While many of us perceive darkness as evil or frightening, scientists say that darkness is merely the absence of light. So logic follows that if we can offer a source of light, the darkness will vanish.
While there are many situations we are powerless to change, we always have the ability to react or reach out with kindness. Love and unity can overcome much. If you encounter someone cursing the darkness, who can’t see a light at the end of their tunnel, perhaps you can be that light. Share a smile, a touch, a kind word, or a meal. Let your candle be the reason someone sees the good in the world.