A letter to move our compass of hope vs. cynicism.
In March of 1973, the American writer E. B. White* received a letter from a Mr. Nadeau, who sought his opinion on what he saw as a bleak future for the human race. White responded with the following, beautifully written letter.
North Brooklin, Maine
30 March 1973
Dear Mr. Nadeau:
As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one
compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not
desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall
get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order
Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the
weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human
society—things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and
all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that
the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a
people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long
time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity,
his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into
deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him
to claw his way out.
Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for
tomorrow is another day.
(Signed, ‘E. B. White’)
*E.B. White (1899-1985) was a long-time contributor to The New Yorker magazine. He also wrote many famous books for both adults and children, such as the popular “Charlotte’s Web” and “Stuart Little”, and co-authored a widely used English language style guide, “The Elements of Style”, popularly known by its authors’ names as “Strunk & White.”