In a commercial for Centrum Silver vitamins, Martin Sheen tells us that our eyes are amazing, that they can see a candle 10 miles away, or the length of 146 football fields. When the commercial was released, lively on-line debate ensued. The math doesn’t work, some challenged. If a football field is 100 yards long, it would take more than 146 of them to make up ten miles. But don’t forget the endzones, others responded. You can’t play football without endzones to cross into. With endzones added in, 146 football fields equals .995 miles. Close enough.
While it’s nice to see people using their math skills (says the mother of a teacher who is passionate about getting her fifth graders to think in math), the far more interesting part of this commercial is the idea that our eyes can detect candlelight from 10 miles away. I assume under perfect conditions. With no ambient light or atmospheric disturbances.
I doubt they were able to see candlelight across the border between Gaza and Israel this week. While the distance is short, candles can’t compete with bombs. It’s been a rough week in that part of the world, the worst escalation of violence in many years. And if the reports coming out are true, a staggering percentage of those who have died have been children.
Their deaths prompted two mothers (one a Muslim, the other a Jew) to write a prayer and propose a new ritual this week. With these words, Ibtisam Mahameed and Tamar Elad-Appelbaum invited their neighbors to light an extra candle for peace:
Let us Light Candles for Peace Two mothers, one plea: Now, more than ever, during these days of so much crying, on the day that is sacred to both our religions, Friday, Sabbath Eve, Let us light a candle in every home – for peace: A candle to illuminate our future, face to face, A candle across borders, beyond fear. From our family homes and houses of worship, Let us light each other up, Let these candles be a lighthouse to our spirit, Until we all arrive at the sanctuary of peace.
Provincial New Englander that I am, when I think of lighthouses, the Gaza Strip is not what comes to mind. Lighthouses mean the coast of Maine. Summer vacation. A location not far from the saltwater taffy/lobster roll neurocenter in my brain. But two mothers in a troubled part of the world have reminded me to look at them differently:Let these candles be a lighthouse to our spirit Until we arrive at the sanctuary of peace.