Light The Candle
Light The Candle
I read the newspaper and watch the televised versions of the news events daily. Within these reports lie the recorded annals of the full spectrum of the events and happenings of the world. Some stories are whimsical and frame the humor that is blessedly ever among us. Other items are more tragic and detail the illness, injury or passing of others around us. We say a momentary prayer for those affected.
We read these stories daily as spectators of our community and the world around us. Sometimes a sympathetic “tsk tsk” escapes our lips as we note the ill fortune of others. To be truthful, we are glad that the misfortune is not our own.
We watch passively as reports from the far-flung corners of the globe fly by our senses in a blur of images, sights and sounds. And we are not often interested. Mayhem, tragedy and misfortune are our daily diet. Glad tidings and uplifting stories are not often considered newsworthy. You have to watch OPRAH for these more heartwarming reports. Why is that I wonder?
The cynics in the information trade often quote basic dictum, “If it bleeds, it leads.” How did we get that way? Is Hobbes correct when he points out the darker side of human nature and claims that it influences our behavior? That isn’t what the nuns taught us. How did we ever descend to this level of electronic indifference? In my experience, I find people to be basically good hearted and decent. They are usually kind to animals, contribute to any number of charities and try to comfort each other and their neighbors and friends when misfortune comes their way.
Perhaps it is the complexity of the issue or the magnitude of the tragedy that stuns us. Maybe it appears to us to be “above our pay grade” in the problem solving area. No one of us can afford to feed the global hungry or heal the sick that we see daily detailed.
In another era, news arrived weekly or even monthly. Gossip at the tavern, the town well or general store was the medium of availability for getting news. In the rural areas a travelling taleteller carried the tidings in exchange for a cup of coffee or a meal. The listeners marvelled at the strange names and places that they heard. Geopolitics and other esoteric academic disciplines were not something most folks were well schooled in.
In those times, poverty, illness and misfortune were all more localized and therefore more personal to us. Neighbors prepared food, helped plow the fields or offered basic assistance to those among them who were in need. They could see and feel the effects of their kind works.
In Catholic Elementary Schools, we sent money to help feed the “pagan babies” or to help support the missions in far away lands. There was a mythology taught to us that we had to share the goodness that the Lord provided each of us, however humble our own circumstances.
The hungry, the ill and the poor are ever among us still, even in this great land of ours. And although many of the world’s problems are “above my pay grade,” I try to do what I can with what I have to offer. I would ask others to do the same. The great philosopher Confucius often reminded his followers that we should “light one candle rather that curse the darkness.” Maybe from each of our small, lit candles will collectively grow a mighty pyre of light and warmth that will illuminate the world.
Joseph Xavier Martin