Share the darkness and bring light to the vulnerable

Light determines much of how we view things. Not because it throws clarity into areas where there was none, but because the way we feel, the way we do, the way we think is often influenced by light.

And if we are often amazed by the speed of light, let us remember that light is never the victor in that race, because whenever light arrives at whatever point, it will find that darkness has reached there before it.

In 17 days we will play our annual cat and mouse game with light. The way we behave, the way we commute, the way we dress perhaps will be influenced by the changing of the light. The dark mornings and the dark evenings will change our mindset.

And when darkness falls, we tend to think how we will cope with this. We stockpile the fuel for the fire, we wrap ourselves in wool to protect ourselves from the cold that we associate with the coming of the times of darkness. We prepare for the onset of winter, keeping in our minds the maxim that when the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies and the pack survives.

And if it is a time when one becomes subconsciously selfish, then we need to amend our thinking to include those who are unable to combat the changing of the seasons; those for whom loneliness is a constant companion, only made worse by the shortening of those days when perhaps there is a chance that something, anything, will happen.

The sad tale of the two brothers who died recently in Dublin ought to make us focus in our minds, just how vulnerable the vulnerable are when a capacity to survive is taken away from them.

In every one of our communities, there are people who will live their lives privately and with dignity, but for whom a peace of mind would be generated if they knew that their more able neighbours were thinking of them, watching out for them, at a discreet distance.

Winter and darkness are harsh bedfellows for those for whom loneliness is a constant. Operating in the light of day can be challenging enough, but reducing that daylight by a third or more, means things have to be done faster.

This winter, call in on your neighbours in a caring yet unobtrusive way. Let those who are vulnerable retain the dignity of independence, but let them know that you are there if needed. Remember, solitude is pleasant, loneliness is not. The kind word, the opportunity of conversation, the option of calling you. These little things matter and those of us who are able to help, should.

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