The Darkness

Filed in Episode 3 by on April 15, 2013 6 Comments

more darknessI caught the darkness

It was drinking from your cup

(Leonard Cohen: The Darkness)


These are dark times, let’s face it. We’re still deep in the worst economic depression since the 1930’s and the number of people one knows personally who are directly hit by it just increases.

You know how we got out of that last depression? We plunged into the ultimate in creative destruction, World War II. Talk about a great reset.

There are enough power mad lunatics around these days, who’d like to offer us a similar solution. Just yesterday in Boston yet another one emerged. But all that isn’t what I mean by The Darkness. It’s the way we respond that’s the issue. It seems like an awful lot of people have drunk from that cup.

The Darkness

The Darkness is blame culture: whatever is wrong, it’s because of….. someone or something – else. So there’s nothing “I” can do about it. It’s victim culture.
The Darkness is “I’m doing my best but the others aren’t pulling their weight” (as opposed to “we can all try harder”)
The Darkness is the failure of belief that anything can ever be improved. That there’s no point in trying because….well because we don’t believe there’s any point in trying.
The Darkness is not doing what you know is right, because nobody authorized it – or you don’t have a code to charge it to.
The Darkness is letting your friends/colleagues go hang, because you’d be exposing yourself to risk.
The Darkness is not putting yourself out to help people because…nobody helped me, I won’t get any thanks anyway, it’s not what I’m paid to do.
The Darkness is giving people a hard time for doing more than they’re paid to do.
The Darkness is management by spreadsheet and timesheet, which is both a symptom and a cause of all that other stuff.

(My thanks to Louis Dietvorst and Mariel van der Linden for their thoughts that I’ve used here).

Or to put it another way:


For them that must obey authority
That they do not respect in any degree
Who despise their jobs, their destinies
Speak jealously of them that are free
Do what they do just to be
Nothing more than something they invest in

But I mean no harm nor give fault
to anyone, who lives in a vault
But it’s alright ma, if I can’t please him


This isn’t about good people and bad people. This is about the evil that gets into our souls when times are hard, that destroys solidarity, makes management focus on their bottom line (at the expense of the top line) and everyone else keep their head down. And it’s a vicious circle, because it makes all that stuff that caused the darkness just get worse.

And the Light

In The Darkness Cohen shifts the blame to the lover who gave him the drink.

I said, “Is this contagious?”

You said, “Just drink it up.”

He had a choice but he took the easy road, even though he clearly knew where it led.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. The Darkness is the opposite pole of the text from Cohen’s  song Anthem, which I used in How The Light Gets In. In Anthem Cohen offers us a vision of change through imperfection. It’s not the “perfect offering” but the cracks, that let the light in. So let’s make use of those cracks.

You can do something. You can’t change the world perhaps but maybe you can change your little bit of it. Or a little bit of your little bit. Enough that other people might be inspired by that. Maybe even just enough that you at least know you’re doing what you think is right. That at the end of the day you have the feeling there might have been some point in going to work.





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Comments (6)

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  1. Mariel says:

    All crisis (personal or collective) invites you to reinvent yourself and change into something new and better. Your choice how to at your glass (half full or half empty) decides the outcome.

  2. Louis says:

    Talking about darkness and light it reminded me of Leonard Cohen’s quote “Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” I think if fits nicely with your blog.

    Having recently written an article about the light (see I am still wondering what’s holding us back (see

    Today we were in a group talking about the (r)evolution required to transform to a real sustainable society. In that discussion someone said: we humans cannot look very far ahead into the future, so why should we then even care to ‘fight’ the crises or even try to design a sustainable world? That ‘helpless’ behaviour will certainly not get us further. But who knows how many people wonder around thinking in this fashion?

    We can’t blame these people but we can help them. They really need guides, lightworkers that are able to see their crack where the light might come in. And that in turn can help these “sleepers” to unlearn and re-learn (see

  3. Stuart Boardman says:

    Right Louis. And yes, it was a deliberate reference to that Cohen quote – from the song Anthem.

    I’ll go and read your blogs now.

  4. Ross says:

    Good to see you quoting Cohen.

    Will people around the world be quoting Bieber years from now ?

    He too is another Canadian export, along with Oil, Wood, Maple Syrop and Igloo’s.

    • Stuart Boardman says:

      As far as I know, the only thing Cohen and Bieber have in common is being Canadian. Cohen is a poet.
      As for the comparison with the other Canadian exports, I’d agree Bieber is wooden and syrupy. Not sure about the oil bit but definitely no relationship to igloos, ‘cos they’re cool.

  5. Hi Stuart, Have you read “Waking up to the dark, Ancient Wisdom for a Sleepless Age” by Clark Strand? Can I recommend? He says….and I agree…that we need more darkness and it is the incessant need for light that is our biggest problem. This over valuing of light and consciousness – brightness. We need darkness – even if that is associated for some people with depression or bad deeds. It is merely the balancer for light.

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