The world feels darker these days, doesn’t it? Every day brings a new headline that is seemingly worse than the day before: Politics, disease, war, pollution, terrorism, hacking, natural disasters, school shootings, social upheaval, and a general feeling of fear, rebellion, or outright hatred. The world, it seems, is drifting into darkness. And it makes the best of us wonder, is the future hopeless?
I’m writing to tell you that the future is not hopeless. In fact, the future—yours and mine—is brighter than you or I could possibly imagine. How do I know that?
Because in many ways, we’ve been here before.
We—as individuals, as families, and as nations—have been surrounded by darkness before. It’s a natural, inescapable part of life. There are periods of darkness followed by periods of light: night and day, winter and summer, war and peace. In fact, our struggle against the darkness will only strengthen the light within us.
The Darkest Hour
World War II was, by all accounts, one of the darkest periods in human history. In fact, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Sir Winston Churchill, referred to a specific year as “the darkest hour.” (Source, The Darkest Hour.) It took place between June 1940 until June 1941, the year when France had fallen to the Axis Powers and Soviet Russia was invaded by Nazi Germany.
Now, I want you to consider Churchill against the backdrop of this, the darkest hour. Here was a man who, as the leader of the United Kingdom, represented Europe’s last defense—Europe’s last glimmer of hope—against an army of darkness.
And what did Churchill do? He lit a fire in the hearts of his countrymen.
On June 14, 1940, Winston Churchill addressed the House of Commons and delivered one of his most famous speeches. After giving a report on the bleak situation in Europe, Churchill finished with these words:
“The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age . . . Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’” (Source, WinstonChurchill.org, emphasis added.)
With renewed hope, the United Kingdom pressed forward and defeated Nazi Germany. In fact, their faith and hope in the future transformed their darkest hour into their finest hour. The fire in their hearts defeated an army of darkness.
Fill Your Life With Light
Each of us has that same ability. I firmly believe that within each of us is a kind of light and we have the ability to add to (or take away from) that light. If we fill our lives with light, we can transform our darkest hours into our finest hours. The fire in your heart can defeat any darkness.
But how do you fill your life with light?
First and foremost, choose to be hopeful. Hope is like a torch we carry, giving us light enough to press forward, through the night. Choosing hope does not mean that you choose ignorance or that you ignore the darkness. Quite the contrary. Like Churchill, you must readily acknowledge the darkness which surrounds you, but you must also believe that good will overcome—that greater light is on the other side of your mountain.
Second, you must share your light with others. You have, within yourself, more light than you know. This will become more apparent to you as you share that light with others. How do you share light? Serve. Serve other people. Encourage other people. Reach out to people who are struggling.
You and I possess light within ourselves. When things get dark, it is our responsibility to keep that fire burning bright and be light in the wilderness of the world.
A Light in the Darkness
On another occasion, Winston Churchill said what is, quite possibly, my favorite quote:
“What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone? . . . I avow my faith that we are marching towards better days. Humanity will not be cast down. We are going on swinging bravely forward along the grand high road and already behind the distant mountains is the promise of the sun.”
Like Churchill, I avow my faith that we are marching towards better days and I promise to light my own torch and move forward. I will choose to be hopeful and I will share whatever light I have with others.
But I can’t do this alone. The world needs you to be a light in the darkness. The world needs you to do the good that only you can do. So lift up your head and hold your torch high. For as Churchill said, “We are going on swinging bravely forward along the grand high road and already behind the distant mountains is the promise of the sun.”