The passionate flame

Wislawa Szymborska said, “You can find the entire cosmos lurking in its least remarkable objects.” Help us see something ordinary in an extraordinary light.


I blow out the candles on my seventeenth birthday cake. Another year has passed. The flames slowly flicker, burn out, and die.To me, a candle is merely a wax stick that steadily holds the flames. It’s only regularly used for birthdays and as a last resort for light.

Seven thousand miles away, my cousins and grandparents, along with hundreds of thousands of other Koreans, hold similar candles in protest against a corrupt president. They chant for President Park Geun-Hye’s resignation as their country has repeatedly been let down by her abuse of power. “A puppet controlled by a puppet-master,” they say; this president is too dangerous and irresponsible to rule a country. The protesters peacefully and proudly hold the candles as they demonstrate, hoping that they can succeed through strength in numbers. A sea of light moves like one body, flooding the streets with hope.

Rather than using them trivially, such as birthday celebrations, these simple objects hold the liberty of an entire nation. Candles control the dangerous weapon of fire, but with the flame too big, it can cause destruction. The Koreans contain their fiery passion through solemn protest rather than riot as the graceful nature of the flames continues to dance along...

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