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Who first said that "It's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness"?

Question #91388. Asked by star_gazer.
Last updated May 13 2021.

Answer has 6 votes
15 year member
723 replies avatar

Answer has 6 votes.
Although the modern use of the quote is attributed to Adlai Stevenson, who used it in a UN address about Eleanor Roosevelt in 1962, it appears to be an old Chinese proverb.


Jan 21 2008, 11:41 AM
Answer has 5 votes
17 year member
2344 replies

Answer has 5 votes.
This is the closest the Bible comes to saying those words:

"The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light." (KJV)

Well, I'm not going to paste in the whole page; it's a repeat of the Stevenson-Roosevelt story with Rom. 13:12 tacked on.

Perhaps the sentiment is better expressed by Rom. 12:14--
"Bless them that persecute you; bless, and curse not." (ASV)

Some sites attribute it to Confucius. Look about two thirds of the way down this page.

Response last updated by Terry on May 13 2021.
Jan 21 2008, 10:21 PM
Answer has 3 votes
19 year member
23 replies

Answer has 3 votes.
The tribute paid by Adlai Stevenson to Eleanor Roosevelt when the former First Lady died in November 1962 was: "She would rather light a candle than curse the darkness, and her glow has warmed the world." I have also heard that this quote is a Chinese proverb that was quoted by Peter Benenson, the founder of Amnesty International, at a Human Rights Day ceremony on 10 December 1961 and provided Amnesty International with its symbol of a burning candle encircled by barbed wire.


Jan 21 2008, 11:08 PM
Answer has 13 votes

Answer has 13 votes.
This quote is actually the mission statement of The Christophers, a men's mission group. This group began in 1945, prior to any of the events mentioned previously. They do tribute it to a rendition of an ancient proverb.

Response last updated by Terry on May 13 2021.
Nov 10 2012, 8:57 PM
Answer has 24 votes
Currently Best Answer
rstone_123 avatar

Answer has 24 votes.

Currently voted the best answer.
The quote here is taken from a book I purchased by William L. Watkinson titled "The Supreme Conquest and Other Sermons Preached in America." New York, F. H. Revell company [1907]. To gain a better understanding of the meaning of the quote, here is the preceding sentence; "But denunciatory rhetoric is so much easier and cheaper than good works, and proves a popular temptation. "Yet is it far better to light the candle than to curse the darkness."

May 10 2017, 1:45 PM
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