A plea for more letters to the editor, and the events of last Wednesday brought to mind a letter written in 1943 by E.B. White in the midst of World War II. He wrote in the New Yorker, in response to a request from the Writers’ War Board asking for words on the “Meaning of Democracy.”
White was not only the author of “Charlotte’s Web,” but also the co-author of the essential writer’s aid, “The Elements of Style,” with William Strunk. In his elegant way, White reminds us all of what democracy is, and I can do no better than to quote him (in part):
“Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time. It is the feeling of privacy in the voting booths, the feeling of communion in the libraries, the feeling of vitality everywhere. Democracy is a letter to the editor. Democracy is the score at the beginning of the ninth. It is an idea which hasn’t been disproved yet, a song the words of which have not gone bad.”
Above all, however, democracy should be “the line that forms on the right,” and “the ‘don’t’ in don’t shove.” What we saw on Wednesday was none of this. What we have here locally in Falmouth, for now, is still democracy, and I hope and pray that we remember what democracy is going into the future.