Darkness Cannot Drive Out Darkness

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Last week, Mr. T stopped by the library on his way home from work. Because of construction, the outdoor book drops were unavailable and he had to run in to return some things. He locked his bike, ran in and returned the books, and came out to find his bike was gone. In five minutes, someone had taken his bike and he was stranded at the library. (They were kind enough to leave him his water bottle.) Mr. T said the worst part was that he was only gone for such a short time. Because he mostly processes these things silently, I know he’s upset about it, but has moved on to “It’s Okay.”

The set-back of a $1000 bike on which Mr. T commutes to work a few times a week year-round is not inconsequential, but that’s not what bothers me the most. When someone invades your life in an unexpected way, it feels violating. This can happen in so many ways. Luckily, for us, it was only a bike. When something like this happens, I start going down a path in my mind of all the darkness in the world. It’s horrifying that women can’t jog alone, my kids have to practice hiding in the bathroom for lock-down drills at school, and we have to lock up everything. And that’s just in my comfortable, safe circle of the world. There is so much slavery, abuse, neglect, genocide. The rabbit hole has no end.

When the bike was stolen, I was mad. (I may have even tweeted something with a “Grrr” at the end.) But as my mind headed down the rabbit hole of darkness, I remembered Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous quote: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” He was right. When we get stuck in the rabbit hole of darkness, we get paralyzed. We then add more darkness and more fear to the world.

Mr. Rogers (one of my absolute favorite people) once said: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” There is so much good in the world as well. And even (and maybe especially) in times of darkness, there is good to be found.

So let me issue a challenge in my little corner of the internet: Let us resolve this week to put more goodness and more light into the world. Together, we can combat darkness. Smile more. Share something. Give. Serve. And please report back. You can be the goodness in the world. And so can I.

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  1. Love this so much! I’m totally with you on the spreading light thing. Be kind to everyone, slow down (even just a little), say “thank you,” try not to criticize. Sorry about the bike (that would sure ruin my week!), but love that you came through that experience with this positive viewpoint, and a great call to action for us all. I believe strongly that “we are what we think,” and it’s easy to focus on the darkness in the world. But it’s almost as easy to choose to focus on the light instead, and once you do, you see light and goodness everywhere you look.

    • MaggieBanks

      We are so blessed and we like to think we can continue on our own little blessed lives without darkness every entering in. But that is impossible. When these things happen, it’s good to reflect on how good we have it. (Yes, it did ruin a few days… and we’re still checking Craigslist and hoping they pawn it, but financial stability allows it to not be a huge deal. Just lame.) I plan to try to put more good in the world this week.

  2. So sorry to hear about the bike! I know I would have gone “down the rabbit hole of darkness” too if something like that happened to Mr. FI. Good for you for striving to find goodness in others even when they give you every excuse not to.

    • MaggieBanks

      Thanks. We are so fortunate to be able to buy a new bike. This doesn’t ruin everything for us. And though it was frustrating and dark, it’s always best to focus on light.

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