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The Winter Solstice entry I wrote earlier this week was a bit glum. After I wrote it, I started thinking on the theme therein of darkness vs. light. Whenever I’m in the doldrums, I turn to certain essays written by the ‘greats”. This essay is based upon the writings of an acquaintance named Patrick, who does the podcast “The Wise Hypocrite”. Spo

It’s easy to get depressed about the state of mankind, given our tendency towards negative bias. It also doesn’t help that when we tune into anything for we instantly see the all the world’s woes. People are indifferent, rude, even malicious, getting away with figurative or literal murder, because they can. Nevertheless, there are people and artwork that remind us we are capable of creating good and beautiful things; some of these transcend time and cultures to inspire us to do likewise. These splashes of sparkle remind us although we have darkness in us, we also have light.

But what if darkness and light co-exist within a person or people I know or read about in the news? What if someone with great artistry is also despicable? Am I able to look past that person’s darkness to find the light within his soul or his work?

Charles Dickens has been on my mind, as it is that time of year when his “A Christmas Carol” is on everyone’s mind, whether in book or theatre form. Mr. Dickens was a visionary and a man of great artistry, but historians agree he was a bit of a louse. In contrast to his works which extol us to treat others better than we do, he was abusive to his wife, indifferent to his children, and often money-obsessed and self-centered. The more you know about the man the harder it is to like the fellow.

Should this matter? Although I would be justified to feel so, I can’t get myself to despise Mr. Dickens. It is hard to believe that someone who created stories of such beauty and pathos is devoid of warmth and compassion. He is responsible for some of the finest works of literature; it has so enriched my life and has raised my awareness of what I can achieve. He wrote about characters with great faults yet are worthy of empathy. We need to keep applying charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence to others, not only to faulty artists but to everyone. The great work is not to forget the darkness, but to focus on the light.

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December 2021

Spo-Reflections 2006-2018