During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was besieged on all sides by those who thought the president was doing too much, too little, or simply making the wrong moves.
In response to one critique, Lincoln told an anecdote about a cowboy who got lost while traversing the frontier. Darkness fell and a furious storm came on. “The peals of thunder were terrific, the frequent flashes of lightning affording the only guide on the road as he resolutely trudged onward.”
When a thunderous boom brought the cowboy to his knees, he petitioned the heavens for help, crying: “O Lord! If it is all the same to Thee, give me a little more light and a little less noise!”
The cowboy’s prayer, and Lincoln’s desire, remain ours today.
We live in an age of tremendous noise.
The noise of news from distant lands.
The noise of shouting about events the shouters are powerless to affect.
The noise of ceaseless content that consumes hours each day, yet leaves no memory or imprint the next.
The noise of private-moments-turned-into-social-media-broadcasted inspiration, brought to you by Mega Corp.
The noise of constant complaining, the amplification of all that is broken, corrupt, and stupid.
While we are surrounded by an overabundance of noise, we exist amidst a scarcity of light.
We need more of the light that shines from those who go to work on the problems in their own backyard, who create interpersonal experiences that make someone’s week, or year, who give goodness and offer earnestness without an agenda.
We need more of the light that emanates from those who make creation their criticism.
We need more light from those whose brilliant flashes illuminate the sky above; we need more light from those willing to swing an ever-burning lantern along the weary, noisy path we all must tread below.