Sixth Letter to My Friends

Dear Friends,

In further correspondence, certain readers of these letters have continued their critiques, demanding greater definition of social and political action as well as the prospects for such efforts to transform the present state of affairs. In these circumstances I could simply confine myself to restating what is found at the beginning of the first letter: “For some time now I have been receiving correspondence from various countries requesting that I explain or elaborate on certain of the subjects addressed in my books. For the most part what they have sought are explanations about such concrete issues as violence, politics, the economy, the environment, as well as social and interpersonal relationships. As you can see, these concerns are many and varied, and it is clear that the answers will have to come from specialists in these fields, which of course I am not.”

Although commentaries on these topics have been offered in subsequent letters, it seems that these have not yet managed to satisfy their requests. And this leaves us with a difficulty, for how am I to respond to questions of such broad scope in a writing the length and nature of a letter?

As you know, I participate in a current of opinion, in a movement that during three decades of activity has given rise to numerous institutions and has confronted dictatorships and injustices of every stripe. The efforts of those in this movement have been met with a varied mixture of disinformation, defamation, and deliberate silence. Yet despite these difficulties, this movement has spread around the world, while preserving both its financial and its ideological independence. Had it yielded to expediency, engaging in the usual sordid short-term speculation, it would doubtless have received recognition and press. But this would only have finally consecrated the triumph of the absurd and the victory of everything against which it has struggled.

In its history, the blood of those who participate in this movement has been shed. They have faced imprisonment, deportation, and barriers of every kind. And it is necessary to remember this. In this sense our movement has always felt a close kinship as a tributary of historical humanism, which placed such emphasis on freedom of conscience in the struggle against all obscurantism and in defense of the highest human values. But our movement has also produced works and studies sufficient to provide responses for this era, in which events have finally precipitated a profound crisis. And I will appeal to these works and studies in order to set forth, within the limits of this letter, the fundamental themes and proposals of contemporary humanists.

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