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Hunter: Little Candle

12/22/11 7:55AM By Edith Hunter
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(Host)  As a difficult year comes to a close, commentator Edith Hunter is thinking about darkness, light and the challenges that lie ahead.

(Hunter) When I was a little girl growing up outside Boston, my mother used to take my sister, my brother and me, to the Repertory Theater to enjoy children's live theatrical events.

Across the front of the huge stage hung a great brown curtain, and in the center of the curtain was painted an enormous flaming candle. Under the candle were the words: "How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world. William Shakespeare."

Except for Tony Sarg's Marionettes, I don't remember any productions that we saw on the stage. But I do remember the curtain, the candle and the words below it.

Christmas, for me, is the celebration of the gradual return of light into a darkening world. So far, mankind has not been able to alter this reality. And it is a very moving reality. As darkness threatens to engulf us, the progression toward total darkness is stayed, the winter solstice occurs, and very gradually the days begin to lengthen.

Christmas is also, for me, the celebration of the birth of a baby, indeed of all babies. They are the promise of the future. They are like light coming back into the world. They are like that candle throwing its beams into our naughty world.

And what a "naughty world" it is, although the word is hardly strong enough. The "level playing field" that we would like to think exists, is now full of what appear to be unbridgeable chasms. We have a greater discrepancy between the rich and the poor than there has ever been, and we have an ever growing number of people living in poverty. Good housing, good schools, and good jobs are increasingly out of reach for a vast majority in our country - never mind the world .

We have more people locked up in jail, than ever before. We believe in punishment, not forgiveness. The correctional system, it seems, does very little correcting.

We accept war as a method of settling disagreements with other countries. We really don't believe in turning the other cheek, in loving our enemies.

But at least at Christmas, we can light candles as symbols of the returning light. And we can celebrate the birth of babies, although I question how seriously our society takes the responsibility of raising those babies. Raising children successfully is hard work and should have our full attention.

So, little candle, throw your light into the naughty world. We may not like what we see, but we ought to see it.
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