We Are All Broken, That’s How Light Enters

The Origins of a Profound Statement

Hints of Wisdom in Unexpected Places

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The idea that we are all broken and that this brokenness allows light to enter our lives has captivated our collective imagination. Many have pondered its origins, with some attributing it to the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Leonard Cohen, or even Ralph Waldo Emerson. However, thorough examination reveals a more complex narrative.

Tracing the Evolution

Seeds of Thought

The earliest known precursor to this sentiment can be found in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s 1841 essay titled “Compensation.” In it, he wrote, “There is a crack in everything God has made.” This notion of imperfection existing in all things has since served as a foundation for the belief that light can filter through our vulnerabilities.

Expanding on the Concept

Philosopher Benjamin Blood, in his 1860 book “Optimism: The Lesson of Ages,” built upon Emerson’s ideas. Blood wrote, “There is a crack in everything that God has made; but through that crevice enters the light of heaven.” Here, the concept of light entering through the cracks is explicitly mentioned, further reinforcing the connection between brokenness and illumination.

Hemingway’s Contribution

In 1929, Ernest Hemingway explored the universal experience of pain and resilience in his novel “A Farewell to Arms.” He wrote, “The world breaks everyone, and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” While not directly related to light entering through cracks, this passage speaks to the transformative power of overcoming adversity.

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Leonard Cohen’s Anthem

Leonard Cohen, the revered singer-songwriter, contributed his own lyrical interpretation in his 1992 album “The Future.” In his song “Anthem,” Cohen sang, “Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack, in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” These lines resonate with Emerson’s and Blood’s ideas, emphasizing that imperfection is a conduit for illumination.

The Fusion of Ideas

Over time, it seems that Hemingway’s and Cohen’s words merged to create the popular expression, “We are all broken. That’s how the light gets in.” The exact origins of this specific formulation remain unknown, but the influence of these two literary giants cannot be denied.

The Power of Fragility

The appeal of this sentiment lies in its universal resonance. We all face setbacks and experience brokenness at various points in our lives. The idea that this brokenness allows light to permeate our existence is both comforting and inspiring. It suggests that our vulnerabilities are not to be despised, but rather embraced as opportunities for growth and enlightenment.

As we navigate our journey through life, it is worth remembering that it is through our cracks that the light enters.

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