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Monday, February 21, 2011


The darkness is gone. Disappeared. Seems like its absence crept upon us like a cat stalking a bird: quickly and quietly. And we did not even notice this event happening at such a fast pace. As I write late at night, it’s light outside. No, not natural light but man-made light: street lights and security lights illuminate the house like a cold winter night does when the moon is reflected on the snow. The house glows on all four sides. I blame society for this.

Fear and the fear of crime are the thieves who stole the darkness. And probably it will never return. We are afraid of it in these troubled times because of what we see and hear and read about. Yet, we need the darkness.

Longing in every person is a desire to hide in its cloak—to be enveloped in it so that we can become invisible to the outside world. It helps one to escape from the bluntness of life and it is a place to empty one’s soul and to think. A dark room can ease pain and suffering. A dark yard can let one gaze at the stars above and let the imagination go wild! Staring at darkness outside enables the viewer to see insects, owls, and other nocturnal animals. What will happen to them in the future? What will happen to the plants, flowers and trees that require darkness for a resting period? How can they live in twenty-four hour light? Will all become malformed? We will be ultimately be responsible for the “domino theory” that will affect the food chain—from the plants to the animals.

As a child, I shared a love-hate relationship with the darkness and I suppose that I still do.(Don’t get me wrong: I love daylight.) In the summers which seemed to be days of eternity, all of the neighborhood children would play either in yards or the sidewalk at night. We would play “Red light, green light,” catch lightning bugs or sit on porches and gaze up at the miracle of the millions of stars. And we would wonder. A thunderstorm in the darkness was scary but spectacular viewed from my grandparent’s front porch and I loved it—when they were with me. I hated the darkness in my bedroom at night: it made me see witches on the walls and turned familiar objects into unfamiliar and frightening ones. Nightlights were not common then. One had a choice: lights off or lights on and parents always made kids sleep in the pitch dark. And there were absolutely no security lights then: there wasn’t crime. We could sleep with our front door unlocked and not be afraid of criminals. Couples sat on front porches. Lovers sat in cars on dark streets hoping not to be seen. That was then. This is now.

Darkness is even gone inside the house. The kitchen is far from dark even with the lights off. The microwave, digital clocks as well as the television box all emit red or green lights that resemble the glow of a neon Christmas tree. Same for the bedroom—the clock emits the same glow. And the bathroom isn’t dark anymore either. The darkness is quickly leaving our houses as well. No doubt, it will disappear from them also.

To not have darkness also affects our pocketbooks. It cost money to use that much electricity that we are using inside and outside of our houses. We’ve come a long way from having just a Christmas tree shining through the front window to huge Halloween and Christmas light displays. And we pay the price: figuratively and literally.

The price is our lives. We all want to feel safe and we should be safe. But the darkness can hide us too. Light can make one visible when maybe one doesn’t want to be seen—not for criminal reasons but to be left alone. And we are quickly running out of places to be left alone. The light shows all—“The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” The darkness is soothing and calming to the spirit.

What will happen in the future to earth’s inhabitants—people and animals? The people will become more enraged and angered due to lack of darkness’ comfort and the nocturnal animals, insects and birds will become extinct. And the plants and trees need a resting period. And we will be responsible. Crime and the fear of crime are the culprits. It was not prevalent when I was a child, My children knew the darkness and loved playing outside at night. My grandchildren are afraid. And now I fear it also, but miss it terribly. To people living in the city it has become a memory.

Laws must be turned around so that people can be safe. People control the laws and create them. Would it not be wonderful if the darkness could return? Without it imagination and creativity are going out the door.

Darkness softens. Darkness soothes. Darkness provides tranquility. Darkness is an avenue on which all people and animals need to travel. It’s strong and turns harsh objects into things of wonder (unless one is little and in his or her bedroom). It enables us to sleep and to dream.

In an age of computerized everything, there still must be one factor: intelligence. No doubt surveys have been made, numbers calculated and much data recorded. But the human soul can not be measured nor can inner peace. Intelligence can be measured. And the question is not really “Who stole the darkness?” but “Why did we let the darkness disappear?” Are we not intelligent enough to figure out the answer? Or, are we afraid of the answer?

“Sherlock Holmes” would be aghast! There would have been no “Arabian Nights” and Galileo would not have seen a thing had it been now instead of then. Robert Frost wrote in his poem “Stopping By The Woods On A Snowy Evening:” “The woods are lovely, dark and deep and I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep…”In these days the woods are aglow with security lights.

We cannot go back. But we need to observe our times and not let the darkness disappear.We want our children safe and our families to be safe. But to lose the darkness is to lose a major part of ourselves. Maybe this is how it is supposed to be—like one of those futuristic cities that one sees in the movies. Maybe this is how it will be. But every person should be able to live without fear and to have the darkness back as a part of our lives. It should not just be a memory.

Sherry Hill

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