The phrase “it's better to light a candle than curse the darkness” is a very slight alteration on the less common Chinese proverb “'Don't curse the darkness - light a candle.” The advice given is “if something is wrong, do something about it rather than complain.”

This is usually good advice, after all, who of us hasn’t solved the world’s problems in a pub, with a few friends? So why not, instead of asking, “why don’t they do this?” do it yourself. It is the point demonstrated in one scene of the Life of Brian by Monty Python, in which the People’s Front of Judea talk extensively about how they’ve got to stop talking and take action.

However it could be a bad thing. Some readers of the more suggestive newspapers would be ill advised to take action on what they believe to be a problem. After all, it is probably better to blame everything on the Immigrants, than to chuck them all out. Perhaps it should be added that “if it is night, and most people are trying to sleep, please don’t light a candle because the minority wants to read”.

The phrase itself found fame when Adlai Stevenson said of Eleanor Roosevelt “She would rather light candles than curse the darkness, and her glow has warmed the world,” in an address to the United Nations general assembly given in 1962.



wertperch says: Unless you're in a cellar full of gunpowder ;)

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