The Circumference of Darkness

Eclipseby Anniel  11/2/14
The brighter the light of a candle, the greater the circumference of the darkness that surrounds it. — Attributed to Albert Einstein  •  This thought by Albert Einstein was so illuminating to me the first time I read it that I stopped in front of the poster it was on in my daughter’s classroom and almost went into a trance. It answered so many questions I had about the people and life around me. I could imagine clearly a small birthday candle in the corner of a dark room and how ineffectual it would be, with darkness and shadows everywhere. Then I imagined that the candle began to grow in size until it filled the whole room with light. That was wonderful, but triggered severe agoraphobia as I thought of the vast darkness surrounding my imaginary room. There is always a larger darkness out there.

The classroom teacher told me she thought of the candle’s light as learning, and the darkness as ignorance, which works, but I was thinking of the light being Goodness and Truth, from whatever source, and the darkness as evil and lies, again, from whatever source.

Ah yes, light and dark, the Yin and Yang of existence. Only the presence of light reveals the darkness that surrounds us. Or we might live in darkness and not know the light at all. No wonder children are afraid of the dark, their candles are so small at first, they need time, teaching and night lights before they are ready for those larger darknesses.

This lack of awareness may also help explain why the so-called Elite in our present society seem to still believe they will pay no price, lose nothing, and escape the seeds of the political evil they sow. How is it possible that they cannot peer into the darkness around them and foresee their own doom? Are their candles so weak they cannot apprehend the greater darkness about them or comprehend its meaning?

The people who think they are at the top are like the prisoners in Plato’s cave, all of whom can see only the shadows in front of them. Some of them never even raise their eyes to see anything but the darkness. Socrates, who, in Plato’s telling, narrates the Allegory of the Cave, postulates that one prisoner escapes and is first dazzled and hurt by the light of the fire casting the shadows, and then the sun when he leaves the cave behind. He also leaves fearing what is new in the real world he enters.

A black man called Rush Limbaugh a few days ago and said he had listened to him for years and absolutely hated him. At first he hated Rush because he knew he lied, but he kept listening. Then he began to recognize the truth Rush was telling and hated him for that, too, for he could see no escape from his circumstances. The interesting thing was his description of himself as being in a dark tunnel of despair until the day he heard Rush say each man is responsible for his own life. The man said as he accepted that he saw light at the end of the tunnel, and chose to leave it. Rush asked him if he talks to his family and friends about what he’s found and he indicated he had tried, but no one believes him and he’s called names and shunned.

The prisoner who left Plato’s cave also faced the same problems when he returned to the cave to tell the others they were being deceived. No one believed him and Socrates says that those still imprisoned would first laugh at his assertions, and then kill him if they could. Socrates also taught that anyone who has seen the truth has a duty to return and help free others.

Rush’s caller begged him to never stop what he is doing because there may be more people who are beginning to see the light and need the help of good people to complete their journey to truth.

Maybe this man’s story can help us see how difficult it is to adjust to the dazzling light of truth, and something of our role in trying to help those willing to see.

Our 18 year old grandson, Jack, has been learning from his grandpa just how precarious physical existence becomes in any pandemic, natural disaster, EMP, physical attack, or any otherIMG_0514 form of warfare that may confront us. What happens when the lights and power are gone? When the World Wide Web is no more? How do we protect ourselves when hungry and angry marauders show up to steal our food, house or other goods? What happens when all the moose and caribou are gone?

I even told Jack about Quantrill’s Raiders and the havoc they created during and after the Civil War. The same type of people still exist, maybe clad now in Saville Row suits, but ready to do whatever is necessary to preserve their perceived power and invulnerability. In their blindness they do not see they will pay a price for their folly.

Grandpa asked Jack how long his iPhone, iPad or computer will last in such circumstances. Even if he could recharge them, what would they be worth? We could see shock closing in pretty fast as Jack learned some hard facts of life.

How much light can you share to keep the darkness at bay? Are we, like the caller told Rush, obligated to help the prisoners in the cave, and how do we do it while still maintaining our integrity?

These are serious questions we need to ask in our current circumstances. We no longer have any trust in government or that we are politically free. And absolutely everything has become political. Even voting seems an exercise in futility. More and more people are surrendering to apathy and what they see as the inevitability of the destruction of the Constitution and our liberties.

There must be some answers on how we prevent freedom’s demise and increase the light of our own candles to help those trapped in darkness. • (2161 views)

This entry was posted in Essays. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to The Circumference of Darkness

  1. As soon as I read this wonderful piece I started searching for a poem I hadn’t read in years. I found it. “The Man Who Spilled Light” by David Wagoner

    The Man Who Spilled Light, by David Wagoner
    The man who spilled light wasn’t to much to blame for it.
    He was in a hurry to bring it home to the city
    Where, everyone said, there was too much darkness:
    “Look at those shadows, they said. “They’re dangerous.
    Who’s there? What’s that?” and crouching,
    “Who are you?”
    So he went and scraped up all the light he could find.
    But it was too much to handle and started spilling:
    Flakes and star-marks, shafts of it splitting
    To ring-light and light gone slack or jagged,
    Clouds folded inside out, whole pools
    And hummocks and domes of light,
    Egg-light light tied in knots or peeled in swatches,
    Daylight as jumbled as jackstraws falling.
    Then everything seemed perfectly obvious
    Wherever they looked. There was nothing
    they couldn’t see.
    The corners and alleys all looked empty,
    And no one could think of anything terrible
    Except behind their backs, so the all lined up
    With their backs to walls and felt perfectly fine.
    And the man who’d spilled it felt fine for a while,
    But then he noticed people squinting.
    They should have been looking at everything,
    and everything
    Should have been perfectly clear, and everyone
    Should have seemed perfectly brilliant, there was
    so much
    Dazzle: people were dazzled, they were dazzling.
    But they were squinting, trying to make darkness
    All over again in the cracks between their eyelids.
    So he swept up all the broken light
    For pity’s sake and put it back where it came from.

  2. Anniel says:

    Deanna, What a perfectly wonderful poem, I had never heard or read it before. Like the yin and yang our whole existence has need of both dark and light, but I like to think there can be a friendly darkness. It does make viewing God’s creations in the heavens more awe inspiring.

  3. Timothy Lane says:

    Well, we all try to spread the light at least a little bit, but if disaster strikes some of us simply lack the physical ability to do much.

    • Anniel says:

      Oh, Timothy, you do more than you know. I feel like you are closer than my brothers and sister even. Funny how quickly you can become “family.” Thanks to Brad for facilitating this kind of sharing.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Yes, I feel that way about many of my fellow bloggers, here and at some other sites. I also have a long-standing similar view of my regular FOSFAX contributors.

  4. Tom Riehl TRiehl says:

    The message I take away from this essay it to never lose your motivation, in spite of seemingly overwhelming odds. Remember how alone Whittaker Chambers felt facing the onslaught of socialism.

    Spread the light.

    I sure appreciate the connections and education I’m beginning to enjoy on this superb site! Thought provoking.

    • Anniel says:

      I recently reread all of “Witness”‘ and then decided to read “I Speak For the Silent- Prisoners of the Soviets”, by Vladimir Tchernavin, the book that Chambers read while breaking away from communism, and wrote reviews of both books. It was wrenching to read both, but it made me profoundly grateful for the blessings we, by the grace of God, have here.

      I begin to believe that more and more people are beginning to see the light again.

  5. GHG says:

    John 1:5 “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it”

    John 8:12 Jesus said “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”

    I believe this is a spiritual war. It is for the soul of our nation. It can not be won politically or through argumentation. It will be won only if there is a spiritual reawakening in enough people. But how many are enough people? 50? 45? 40? 30? 20? 10? God promised Abraham he would not destroy Sodom is he found 10 righteous people there. Who is bargaining with God for the modern day Sodom?

    • Anniel says:

      That spiritual awakening may be happening Mr. Lesser. I try to remember that God is still in charge. How many brave people do we need to stand against the tide of darkness out there? I keep remembering Jesus telling His Disciples about the signs of His coming in Matthew. He lists all of the terrible things that will come, then suddenly says not to worry for the end is not yet. Not even the Angels know when that is – Only God knows when.

      Spread the light, and pray for others to see it, too.

  6. Jerry Richardson says:


    The same person (Jesus) who said:

    I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. —John 12:46 KJV

    Also said:

    I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. —John 6:51 KJV

    Of course, there seems to be a connection to the 2nd Tree:

    …lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. —Genesis 3:22-23 KJV

    Now for some really way-out Biblical SPECULATION:

    Could the 2nd Tree be an allegorical reference to Jesus before his historical time was ripe?

    • Anniel says:

      I’m definitely going to have to chew on that one for awhile. The implications are very intriguing.

      Oh dear, I should have said “think”‘ but bread does lead to chewing –

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *