An Illuminating Thought

<b>Andy Rooney </b> Considers The Power Of Light

A weekly commentary by CBS News Correspondent Andy Rooney.

Sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night, I get thinking things that wouldn't be worth thinking about if I was really awake.

I was lying there in the dark the other night and got thinking what a good job civilization has done lighting everything.

Before Thomas Edison came up with the light bulb, the only way people had of seeing in the dark was with fire.

There were campfires. We had kerosene lamps at our cottage at the lake.

Everything is lit with electricity now - whatever electricity is.

There is even talk about the time when there will be a permanent light in the sky, a man-made sun hung up there. We'd have a 24-hour daytime. I'd hate that. I think we all need some darkness in our lives.

Downtowns everywhere are already lit up 24 hours a day.

The Great White Way.

We have to pull down the shades in our bedroom because of the glare of the streetlight outside.

Flashlights were a pretty good invention. I'm a sucker for clever flashlights though. And the bigger the better. I always wanted one of these when I was a kid. And they bring out the gadget inventors. I'll bet I've bought a hundred flashlights in my life. I have every kind ever made. But then, I never have one when I really want one.

During World War II, the British had those great searchlights scanning the sky, looking for German bombers to shoot down.

When they get talking about nuclear and biological weapons, I always think about what would happen if all but a few thousand people living on some remote Pacific islands were wiped out. Those humans left on earth wouldn't know how to make any of the things we have. How long would it take before another Thomas Edison came along and invented the light bulb again?

When I get thinking of something like light in the middle of the night, there's one light that seems perfect. And that's a candle. It's solitary, constantly changing. It casts great shadows, and leaves mysterious dark areas in a room. Candlelight is best for deep thinking, too.

I'll bet President Bush would make great decisions if all he had for light in the Oval Office was a candle.