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“Only Light Overcomes Darkness”

It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”

(Eleanor Roosevelt)

It seems to me that our country and, indeed, the world is experiencing the struggle of light and darkness in a more intense way than in the past. Perhaps you are feeling this conflict too within yourself. So, let’s look at the difference between light and darkness.

Light is characterized as manifestation of divinity in most philosophies and religions. For the Chinese, it is the yang; for Hindus it is the manifestation of Krishna, Lord of Light; Light is truth for Buddhists and transcendence of the world; for Muslims the effulgent light of Allah illumines the world; Christ is the light of the world for Christians and his mother is ‘the light bearer.’

Signs of light can be seen in virtues such as integrity, honesty, empathy, compassion, forgiveness and a desire for reconciliation, respect for all, especially women and children, protection of life including that of the planet, and tolerance and inclusion, to name a few.

To live in the light is to be a ‘light bearer.’ Jesus says in Matthew’s Gospel, “you are the light of the world…your light must shine before people so that they may see goodness in your acts and give praise to God” (5:14, 16).

Darkness is the partial or total absence of light. It is characterized as primordial chaos. It precedes birth and is associated with states of transition as in death. It is als associated with sin and with evil. In the First Letter of John, we reads “Whoever says he is in the light, yet hates his brother or sister, is still in darkness” (2:9).  For the Chinese, darkness is the yin; for Hindus it is the dark aspect of Kali; in the Jewish religion it is “Belial” – a scoundrel, a villain (Proverbs 6:12).

Signs of darkness can be seen in vices such as dishonesty, abusive behavior, envy, greed, lust, prejudice, racism, violence against the innocent, hatred, holding on to grudges or resentments, bullying. To quote Proverbs again: “There are six things the Lord abhors: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood; a heart that plots wicked schemes, feet that run swiftly to evil; the false witness who utters lies, and he/she who sows discord among brothers and sisters” (6:16-19).

In terms of Novum-U*, darkness exposes itself in an unwillingness to seek help, study, or give up bad habits; light appears in the desire to learn, to grow emotionally and spiritually, and to live a virtuous life.

Regardless of one’s religion, or none, starting a new year is a good time to commit oneself to the light.

* Novum-U is a neuroscience-oriented approach to success for those who are incarcerated and for ex-felons.
 (See “An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols,” by J.C. Cooper, for further information on light and darkness)