Be the Leaven

As I finish work late tonight (on a new book), a thought came to me, a funny old saying: “Don’t be the lump, be the leaven”. Similarly, one could say, don’t be the darkness, be the light. The darkness is so heavy, like early winter nights. The dawn dispels the darkness, and light shines everywhere.

These seem to be such strange dark times, and people seem to be behaving strangely. The stock market runs up and down like a flag on the flagpole, important banks have crashed, dishonesty has been revealed, sometimes on a massive scale, people have been bilked, savings have been wiped out, fortunes have been lost, and people talk about how much they’ve lost in the market. There are losses, but there seems to be a wholesale dishonesty too. Scams and schemes, and innocent people have gotten hurt. We read about it every day in the papers. What happened? Why have some people decided that it’s okay to lie, cheat and steal from others?

I find too that those who have lost money seem to take comfort in talking about others who have lost more. Merchants who aren’t doing well point out stores for rent because of businesses that have failed and closed. It’s the glass half full/half empty theory. And I’m not hearing much about half full glasses lately, and everyone wants to rattle empty glasses. Okay, okay, enough already. We get it. These are hard times.

I have always found the stock market scary and never understood it. And large businesses and institutions can fail. But I think what shocks me most are the stories about dishonesty, and people who have knowingly stolen hard earned savings from others. I find that morality far more scary than a stock market crash.

Similarly, recently, people I have trusted, or liked, or had faith in, have behaved badly, been rude, hurt my feelings, or let me down in major ways. What’s happening to people? What makes them think it’s okay to be dishonest, mean, or rude? They’ve done things to me that I would never have done to them in a million years, and in ways that truly hurt.

I think the belief that we’re all suffering from is that these are dark times. Evils lurk in the darkness, nasty little monsters that hurt us all. The monsters of dishonesty, betrayal, disappointment, loss, taking from others not only their saving, but their faith in humanity and their peace of mind.

We have choices here. Big ones. We can point to the darkness or the light. We can be the leaven or the lump. We can point to those who have lost money, or the stores that have closed. We can talk about those who have stolen from others in vast amounts. But what about the good news, the good people, the ones who are still okay, have integrity, are behaving right, and are kind? We can not only point to them, we can be them and shine brightly in the darkness for others to see. We all need the light, not the darkness. The light guides us like a beacon, and in the darkness we get lost.

I think especially in dark times, we need to make choices about whether we want to be the darkness or the light, the leaven or the lump. I don’t want to be the lump, do you?

It’s easier to be gloomy, and far harder to be cheerful sometimes. It’s hard to be optimistic when we’re unsure or scared. But I think both gloom and good cheer are contagious, and we can choose which we want to be. No matter how tough things are, we can choose to be the light…or the lump.

If enough of us shine brightly, these won’t be dark times. I’m casting my vote here, with you, for the leaven and the light. And I hope you will too.

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3 Comments so far
  1. Kim January 16, 2009 6:30 pm

    First, much hugs as I can feel your disappointment in humanity in this post. I don’t have the answers as to why people act and react certain ways especially in these turbulent times. And as a wife of a policeman, I’ve long given up on predicting human behaviour. But I simply have to have the light. I believe, nothing or no one can take your shine–your happy, unless you allow them. I really try hard to be a positive person as negative attracts negative energies and so I feel.

  2. Reagan January 23, 2009 7:50 am

    Dear Ms. Steele,
    I agree with you completely, and I can say that is why I read your books! My husband enjoys biographies, but I tell him there is nothing like reading a novel with a heroine who overcomes the evil-doers and the “Blue-Meanies” of the world to find happiness in the end. I wish our mainstream media would have a cover page once and a while with something good on it. But in the meantime, just keep doing what you’re doing. It makes it very nice for those of us who are reading your books!

  3. Victoria Rice January 23, 2009 9:08 pm

    Dear Ms. Steele,
    I too wish to be the leaven! It is very true to say that we can choose if we are the leaven or the lump. Often when reflecting on past events of my life, I think of so many better ways I could have handled a situation. I could have enjoyed it more if I had let myself or I could have had a better day if I had focused on something more positive. I have consciously decided to see things in a positive light. When you look for good things, more & more pop out at you. It can be difficult to find some (especially when looking at you boss) but there is always that little bit of good that shines out at you. Hears to more people being the leaven xox Victoria