An article written by my father, the Rev. C. Thomas Paige, as it appeared in the Tri-State Defender on the date shown.
A little boy rested on his elbows, looking out of a window into the darkness very intently. His mother walked into the room and the little boy paid no attention to her. After a period of time, the mother spoke up and asked him what was going on. The little boy turned to his mother and said, “There is a man out there punching holes in the darkness!” This is the story of the “Lamplighter” as told by the great Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson. It was related this week on a radio station by Mr. Ford Nelson. To me, it is most fitting for us who are embarking on a new year.
Thousands of people in all walks of life are living in the midst of darkness. Apparently, all about them doors are closing. To them there is no way out. Their whole lives are covered with darkness. Going is as bad as coming back or giving up. There is nothing to urge them to goon. Out of this darkness there must be someone or something to give their lives new meaning and new perspective. It is at this point that each of our lives takes on new meaning.
Paul writing to the Galatians urge the strong to bear the infirmities of the weak. There are those of us who are strong who much be ever conscious of our responsibilities to those about us.
We must not fool ourselves – we cannot fool ourselves. Each one of us has a responsibility to all of those about us. In this day as never before we must be “Lamplighters. We must so conduct our lives that, in every area of our activities, we must throw light on the the darkened places of human activity.
As odd as it seems, there are darkened places in the lives of all people. If you were to talk with anybody long enough, you will learn that each person is bearing a cross or crosses known only to himself. Darkness engulfs most peculiar area of his life. This darkness must be dispelled. Someone must go out and punch wholes in the darkness that keeps this person from falling beneath the cross upon his shoulder. There must be a hand that will move away the clouds that keep the sun, moon and stars from shining in the lives of people.
As far as this young boy was concerned, all of the world was covered with darkness. Things that were very visible during the day were now hidden. Along came a man who struck a match to the hidden lamps and the darkness was gone. This is the task of each of us as we look upon world conditions today. There must be someone who is coming into the lives of each of us today that will enable us to gain a new perspective on life.
Years ago, the old hymn writer wrote, “Let your lower lights be burning – some poor sailor tempest tossed in the darkness may be lost.” Countless people entering 1961 are “tempest tossed.” They have been haunted with adversities throughout 1959 and 1960. As far as they are concerned, 1961 offers no more and no less. They have been caught up in a whirlpool. The only thing which they can do is continue to go around in circles. God never intended that any of us should go around in circles. He admonished us to invest that we have so that the world might be better. Each of us is responsible for making the world a little better.
The very fact that we have passed this way should make the world a better world for those coming behind us. It is ours today to build stronger bridges – moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social – that those who come behind us might be in a position to render even greater service. It is for us to hold forth the banner of better things that faltering people might see our banners and take on new hope. It is for us to trim our lamps and keep them burning to the extent that those people living in the depths of despair might gain new hope for the world to come.
Our world is tottering morally, physically, spiritually, socially and intellectually. There must be some men – and women – who first have the fiber themselves to lead people to new heights. The hatred, greed, selfishness, immorality ad the like which engulf our world today must be dispelled and dispelled now. The world’s greatest need today is “Lamplighters” – people who have found the light themselves and are in a position to give light to those who come behind them. As that little boy looked out into the darkness, he saw a man giving light to a dark world. What do our young people – and old people – see when they look at you?