Dear Dr. Smith,
I am twelve years old.
Some of my friends say that because of the pandemic, there is no more hope in the world.
My mother says, “If you see it in the Aiken Standard it’s so.”
Please tell me the truth; is there hope in the world?
VIRGINIA, your friends are wrong. They have been affected by the callousness of the callous modern age. They do not believe except they receive. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their technology and social media-damaged minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be steeped in media or lost in a never ending video game, are small. In this great universe of ours man is a mere flesh and blood, biological organism among technological wonders. His intellect is small in comparison with the vastness of the stars and galaxies. It is hard for him, very hard indeed, to grasp universal, cosmic truths.
Yes, VIRGINIA, there is hope in the world. It exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist. All of these propel our lives to boundless joy and beauty. Alas! How dreary would this world be if there were no hope in it. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make our time on this planet tolerable. If there were no hope in the world, the eternal light of childhood and all its joy would be forever extinguished.
Not believe in hope? You might as well not believe in the Internet! You might get all of your friends to hang out on every street corner in the city to watch for the appearance of hope, but even if they did not see hope coming at them, would that prove it did not exist? Nobody sees hope, but that does not mean that it is not real in this world. The most real things in the world are those that neither man nor child can see. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders that are unseen and unseeable in the world, yet live mightily in the hearts of those who need them most.
You may take apart your smart phone and figure out what makes the magic of communication happen, but there is a veil covering the unseen world that not even the smartest, strongest, most clever person could ever rend asunder. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance can push aside that flimsy curtain of iron and see the beauty and glory beyond it. Is that world, that existence, that abiding hope real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and lasting.
No hope in this world! Thank God! Hope lives, and it lives forever. A thousand years from now, VIRGINIA, no ten times ten thousand years from now, hope will continue to make glad the heart of mortal man.
With profound admiration and thanks to eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon for asking the question; Francis Pharcellus Church of New York’s Sun for answering it so eloquently; and the now famous editorial of September 21, 1897, “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus”, the most beloved and reprinted newspaper editorial in history. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all! Above all, have hope!