Come into the Light

“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.”
― William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

The light in my aunt’s apartment seemed really dim, and with her extreme vision issues, it was especially a problem. In the lightbulb area at the store, we looked at all the different types of bulbs available, wondering which would be the brightest and most pleasant for her space. We found daylight, warm white, soft white in LED, Compact Fluorescent, and traditional shapes. So many choices to bring light into a dark space, aren’t there? What about people? Are there different levels of light we can cast into the world? I’m not sure, but I am quite sure that Shakespeare’s words are true for bulbs and for deeds — our sometimes dark and weary world simply needs a little light.

Maybe it’s when you hold the door open for the person coming out as you enter (you do hold the door, don’t you?), or maybe it’s sending a note to just say hello to someone, but any time we make an effort to do something thoughtful, we cast a lot of light in someone else’s darkness, and often in our own. After seeing several acts of unkindness in our world (that seems much easier to find in the news), it seems a good week to cast a light on the kindness of others and the opportunities for each of us to throw a few beams of our own.

The guy who cuts us off in traffic, the lady who gets in front of us in the checkout line, and the kid who takes our ball on the playground — darkness is everywhere, it seems, but is it? Let’s look at the light being shone in the world in places we’ve not considered.

  • Freddie Wieczorik, a security officer at Disney World, asks princesses for their autographs. Never mind that these are ordinary girls dressed up to visit the park, Freddie makes them each feel they are truly a princess. Is that something you could emulate somewhere else?
  • Kenny Thompson, an ordinary man in Texas, paid off the lunch fines of 60 elementary school children when he discovered that they were being penalized in their meal choice because of their debt. He believed they should get a good meal and worry more about their school work than their lunch debt. Is that something you could do?
  • Harman Singh removed his turban, breaking a strict religious rule, in order to help a bleeding young boy. After interviewing Singh, the local news station contacted a furniture store who donated a bed, couch, and coffee table upon seeing his empty apartment. Two good deeds. Would you be willing to break religious rules to offer aid to another person?
  • Jonas Salk, the inventor of the polio vaccine, refused to patent the medicine because he wanted to help keep the cost for patients low. Missing out on millions (or billions) of dollars, Salk’s good deed made saving lives affordable.

You see, not every person who does good deeds, who shines their light in the darkness, has been a famous person. You don’t have to be famous to brighten the weary world, either. How can you and I make a difference in lives?

  • Pay for the coffee of the person next in line.
  • Roll an elderly neighbor’s trash out to the street for them.
  • Pick up the phone and call someone who lives alone and let them know you care about them. (People of all ages are glad to hear a cheerful voice.)
  • Look for the good in people and then tell them what you see.
  • Offer forgiveness.
  • Write a letter. This will probably always be my favorite on the list because it requires no special card or stationery and can result in a keepsake for years to come for the recipient.

You and I might be traveling through life in very different places in the world. Maybe we worship differently, eat differently, practice different political beliefs, or speak different languages. It doesn’t matter. Soft White or Daylight, the type of bulb is not always what’s important. When we turn on a lamp in a dark room, we are all greeted with the same light that enables us to see more, often to feel safer. It is no different with good deeds and kind actions. Any bulb will provide light, and any good deed is a good deed — it doesn’t matter how magnanimous or minuscule it might appear to be. Go into the weary world of a fellow traveler and cast your light today.

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