Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Candle in the Darkness

During my senior of high school, I attended a leadership camp at Stanford University for student leaders. The camp was filled with seminars and workshops designed to teach us to develop leadership skills to better ourselves, our schools, and the community at large.

One night, they took us outside to a large grassy field, where we stood in silence in the darkness.  The camp’s head counselor, whose name now escapes me, passed out a small white candle to each of us. After we all had candles, he lit his own, holding it closely as he looked out at the group of forty-five student-leaders before him.

We remained quiet as he lit the candle of the person standing next to him. That person then lit the candle of the person next to him and so on and so forth until the combined might of our tiny candles illuminated the night with a brilliant, flickering light.

The head counselor went on to tell us the meaning of the exercise—that we all carry a flame which we can share with others. When we do so, we empower others to perpetually pass it on until there is no more darkness.

I have always interpreted this as meaning that each and every one of us has the power to change the world for the better. While most of us won’t end up in the history books, this is beside the point—we don’t act to be physically rewarded, but simply because it is the right thing to do. Although we may individually lack the ability to single-handedly save the world, each of us has the power to save someone’s world.

I challenge you, as I challenge myself, to strive to be a sharer of your personal flame—not a hoarder. Make it a personal goal each and every day to commit one random act of kindness, whatever that may be, even if it is inconvenient. The opportunities to do good every day are as plentiful as the stars are in the sky.

Only when we share our light with those who lack it, do we ourselves truly begin to live.

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