In his latest Monster Whisperer video, Jimmy Talarico introduces one of his art pieces, entitled “All the Light I Need,” to make a point about moving out of the darkness and into the light. I was immediately attracted to this photo which is shown above. A small circle of light surrounds a shoe. Jimmy describes it as, “a photo of my boot on a step with just enough light to see the next step. Really that’s all any of us really need, the light just beyond our last step. If you believe in the goodness of that light, trust its direction, you’ll never need more than that.” What do you see in the photo? I have two reactions. Immediately, I saw the photo as a wonderful representation of living in the moment. That small circle of light is this moment, and I envisioned each next step bringing another small circle of light creating the next moment. Thought, as I continued to ponder the photo, the darkness overshadowed the light. The light was but a small pinhole through the prominent presence of darkness. I don’t like the dark. I always want to be out of the dark.
Considering the dark, I am remembering an article my friend and podcast partner, Chris Lozier, recently sent me from the Notre Dame Magazine (Chris is a proud Domer) entitled, The Misplaced Virtue by Karen Stohr, the Ryan Family Chair Professor of Metaphysics and Moral Philosophy at Georgetown University. Stohr writes, “(Immanuel Kant) believes placing our hopes in our fellow human beings is the only way out of the darkness. The darkness that worries Kant most is what he finds within each of our hearts, something he calls “radical evil.” Despite the name, radical evil is quite ordinary, with its roots in human nature. It is simply the act of putting oneself at the center of one’s moral universe, of letting our own interests and desires determine what we do and who we become. Each of us, Kant thinks, has a propensity toward radical evil. But each of us also has a predisposition toward the good. We all must decide whether evil or good becomes the driving force in our lives. Which way the world turns is a matter for our choosing.”
What do you think about Kant’s perspective? This is a side note, but I am particularly sensitive to what seems to be a regular practice by self-helpers and others these days to modify everything (?!) as radical. Kant did so in 1793, so I’ll give him a pass (unless he started the trend??). I ask you, isn’t evil good enough? Anyway, at this point, I am not going to do a deep dive on Kant, but if it is true that he believed it is radically evil to “put oneself at the center of one’s moral universe, of letting our own interests and desires determine what we do and who we become,” I have issue. In fact, I would take the totally opposite view that it would be “radically” 🙄 evil if we weren’t being intentional about what we do and who we become. With one caveat, the golden rule always applies.
Light, dark, good, and evil. I subscribe to what Stohr writes about placing our faith in our fellow humans as the way out of the dark. For me, there is nothing that contributes more to living fully than being connected to other humans. So, Jimmy, I envision a new art piece. Not sure how it will work, but can we create something where each circle of light presents a human, and each additional circle of light overcomes more of the darkness?? Other humans are all the light I need.