Tolkien to his son Christopher [extract]

10 April 1944

I sometimes feel appalled at the thought of the sum total of human misery all over the world at the present moment: the millions parted, fretting, wasting in unprofitable days - quite apart from torture, pain, death, bereavement, injustice. If anguish were visible, almost the whole of this benighted planet would be enveloped in a dense dark vapor, shrouded from the amazed vision of the heavens! And the products of it all will be mainly evil - historically considered. But the historic version is, of course, not the only one. All things and all deeds have a value in themselves, apart from their "causes" and "effects." No man can estimate what is really happening sub specie aeternitatis. All we do know, and that to a large extent by direct experience, is that evil labors with vast power and perpetual success - in vain: preparing always the soil for unexpected good to sprout in.
- from "The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien"

1 comment:

Nomad said...

That, indeed, is something to hold on to.

Waking on the weekend to the news of the slaughter of the market-goers in Iraq, and to know it is just one portion of the 'sum total of human misery' and to ('happen to'!) read Psalm 10 just afterwards was something of a taste of this. It's by no means a glib or self-comforting comment Professor Tolkien makes: if anything, seeing through the 'historical version' to the meta-narrative only sharpens one's feeling of the daily evil and goodness (and well it ought). But it is a truly Hope-full comment.