PBP Week 12 – F is for Flamethrower

Better to light a candle the curse the darkness.”

I’ve always been a subscriber to this idea as a spiritual, emotional, and personal directive.  Taking a single step toward alleviating a problem is, in my humble opinion, far better than sitting around bemoaning our difficulties.  Too often it seems that we, as a species, would rather expend energy complaining about our problems than taking the action needed to fix them.  I light a candle because, even though it does not destroy the darkness, it will be enough to illuminate my way until the darkness lifts.

Sometimes it’s better to light a flamethrower than curse the darkness.” ~ Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms

I admit to nearly falling out of my chair with laughter when I read this one.  I find it amusing mostly because I’ve done that very thing on a few occasions.  Forget that tiny candle of illumination, that single pinpoint of light… now we’re getting serious.  We aren’t simply pushing away the darkness for a temporary respite; we’re sending it home to its mama with its tail between its legs.  Sometimes, darkness needs to be reminded that it does not control the show, that while it might slink about in corners and try to nip at our heels, we still are the ones who hold the rolled up newspaper and are more than willing to swat its snout when it starts to growl.

So many people I know subscribe to one or the other of these philosophies, but only a small handful that understand the necessity for both approaches (as well as some middle ground… say lighting a hurricane lamp).  There will be times when a light touch is needed, a proverbial thumb delicately placed to slightly tip the scales.  More rarely, there’s a need for something more drastic, more forceful – a ten-ton weight dropped on the scales.  Being able to know which method is appropriate in a given situation is a rare skill, as is being able to get past our own emotional reactions to a given situation.  It’s easy to get carried away with an overwrought response, using an elephant gun to shoot a gnat.  Likewise,  we can become so paralyzed by our fears that we refuse to even light a tiny candle.

Whatever the scale of our actions, the most important thing when faced with darkness is to create illumination.  Glaring in hate at the darkness only feeds it.  We can make the choice to chase it away… and how far, how long, and how vehemently.

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