Light at this time of year is precious. It comes in suddenly, enough to startle and is all too easily lost if we are texting, or inside a shop, or caught up with sticky children where roads divide and rule. Headlights are on a lot of the day, and the orange streetlights don’t know what to do with themselves as the sky closes over yet again with dark foreboding clouds.
Indoors, lighting is warm and mood-creating unless the lights are those cold blue fizzing strips. We had them at school, I remember and they never ceased in making their presences felt by whining and complaining and eventually going out altogether, which was a relief, not least because Chemistry was cancelled for the afternoon. As we walk past cafes and bars, the light is inviting. Outside it’s wet and windy and we are in serious danger of being decapitated by flying umbrellas. We see their abandoned skeletons on the pavements, their skin ripped from their bones. Dogs ears fly out like wings, their tails firmly tucked in, their legs pushing for home.
This is the winter, not of our life, but of our year. The fact that we have an extraordinary volume of rain is just how it is these days. In the past, according to everyone over 55, it never rained. Snow fell and it was always pretty snow and sparkly and nobody got stuck in drifts or skidded off the road. Seasons were well defined and the world was a simpler place and there was no violence, no weirdo behaviour, no anorexia or obesity, no drugs and no divorce. Of course, this is twaddle. What they mean is that there was no social media, only a handful of newpapers and only 3 TV channels, so that the ordinary folk never got to hear of the nasty things. Now we all know all the nasty things and we don’t much like it, because it creates in us a fear of life in the big Out There.
I wonder at how much we actually need to know, because all this information can make us blind. It seems to me that we can be thoroughly appraised of the dreadful situation in Syria whilst at home our own children come home to an empty house and unsupervised TV. We can wring our hands in grief at the acts of violence and persecution around the world whilst we ignore the agressive rudeness towards an immigrant taxi driver saying it’s none of our business. We can talk about what should be done in care homes and never bother to visit Granny in hers.
The light is on and we are at home, protected and warm, most of us, and yet it seems to me that we forget our responsibilty to our own values. We can talk as if we had them all in place, pointing blame everywhere but at ourselves. Talking is easy, blaming, even easier, because it makes us feel good about ourselves, our values but when we point one finger in blame, the other four are pointing right back at us.
There is enough food in the world to feed every single human. There is enough money to supply everyone’s basic needs. There are enough parents to give every child a home. There is enough light. We should work on shining it in the right places.