“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Nelson Mandela


I began with this quote and then kind of got pretty passionate about this topic the more I thought about it (that is a warning).

We all have things that matter to us.

A big or small issue that kinda gets the heart pumping a little bit.

The difference between people is that even though we all have something that gets us ‘going’ (heart pumping, anger, heartache, whatever) some remain silent, some speak softly and some speak loudly (or shine a light as it were) on what matters to them.

And while I abhor loud bombastic people … what I do give many of them credit for is the fact that by shining their own light (albeit a frickin’ spotlight) they have unconsciously liberated the rest of us to take whatever wattage our light is and bring it forth against some pretty dark things (if we elect to).

There is no shortage of issues that deserve some light.

–          Statistics show that a woman is battered every 15 seconds in the United States by an “intimate.” That’s two million women annually who are battered or abused by their partners. Even more frightening is that every day (yeah … I just typed every day) 4 women lose their lives to violence … an estimated 1/3 of the women who are abused. Oh. And those 4 women are murdered by a husband or a boyfriend (not some stranger).

One in four women who commit suicide is a victim of domestic violence.

And. If that bothers you think about this … there are 3 times more animal shelters (approximately 4300) than battered women shelters (approximately 1500). <and I like pets but this seems kind of insane>

Here is a staggering number.

1 in 4 women will fall victim to Domestic Violence in their lifetime. 1 in 4.

Uhm. How about I make this personal.

That means that 1 of 4 of your female friends/relatives/neighbors is a potential victim.


–          115+ million kids globally not in school. More important than domestic violence? Yikes. It is all important stuff.


–          In 2009, US child abuse involved an estimated 6 million children.

One in 4 girls will be sexually abused.

One in 6 boys will be sexually abused.

The numbers are stunning.

Stunningly horrible.

Dark numbers.


–          There are 1.4 billion people globally living in poverty – under $1.25 a day.


–          925 million people are hungry. Every day, almost 16000 children die from hunger-related causes. That’s one child every five seconds. Hunger and malnutrition are the underlying cause of more than half of all child deaths, killing nearly 5.8+ million children each year.


–          Women’s rights (which isn’t just about ‘the glass ceiling’ gentlemen). Women’s rights around the world are an important indicator to understand global well-being. Despite the fact a major global women’s rights treaty was ratified by the majority of the world’s nations a few decades ago … numerous issues still exist in all areas of life, ranging from the cultural, political to the economic. For example, women often work more than men, yet are paid less; gender discrimination affects girls and women throughout their lifetime; and women and girls are often are the ones that suffer the most poverty.

Gender equality furthers the cause of child survival and development for all of society, so the importance of women’s rights and gender equality should not be underestimated.


–           Contaminated water. Bad water is still the primary cause of death in the world today. Each year, it leads to deadly illnesses like cholera, typhoid, malaria, etc., in some 8 million people, including 1.5 million children.


I could go on but if you have any hesitation with regard to where you shine your light I suggest you begin here … with the UN The Universal Declaration of Human Rights which begins with these words:

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,


Pick any article & issue from the Declaration and think about it. You don’t have to address it globally … it could be locally or it could be in your community.

Unfortunately … I can guarantee you one thing … while you will be tempted to think “oh, that’s not an issue we have ..” … well … do not fall into that trap.

Every issue resides in your community and in your neighborhood. Things like this are sneaky. And hide in dark corners.

Hence people need to step up and shine a light on these things.


I use words.

Others use pictures.

There is no one way to shine a light …

I call it enlightened conflict.

Frankly I don’t care what I call it, you call it or what anyone calls it.

Everyone can make an impact.

Even if you only carry a 15watt bulb. It is light.

In the end maybe think about it this way … by lighting the way you are removing some darkness … the darkness of ignorance … the darkness that maybe stops someone from seeing a way out of their situation … the darkness of hopelessness.


Anyone one of us can provide some light if we choose to.


This is one of the few times you will ever hear me recommend speaking out – being vocal. I typically don’t like people on a mission with a cause. I tend to believe if you speak softer more people will actually listen – and believe. But in this case I will err on the side of I don’t care if you whisper .. croak .. or shout.

Speak. Each word is a light shining on a dark spot in humanity (or the shadows that are a reflection of lack of humanity).

Choose to speak out.

Think of it as shining a light on some darkness.

And maybe, if you are really really lucky, it will light the way for someone out of the darkness.

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Written by Bruce