In a letter to W. D. Howells (April 1899, “Mark Twain’s Letters: 1854–1910“, arranged with comment by Albert Bigelow Paine), Mark Twain writes: “I have been reading the morning paper. I do it every morning — well knowing that I shall find in it the usual depravities and baseness and hypocrisies and cruelties that make up civilization, and cause me to put in the rest of the day pleading for the damnation of the human race.”
Mark goes on. “I cannot seem to get my prayers answered, yet I do not despair.”
One of Mark’s dearest friends, indeed a soul-companion, was Helen Keller, who lost sight and hearing when she was less than 2 years young. They first met when Mark was about 60 and, Helen, a young girl of 14
Helen wrote of Mark in “The Story of My Life”. “I love Mark Twain — who does not? The gods, too, loved him and put into his heart all manner of wisdom; then, fearing lest he should become a pessimist, they spanned his mind with a rainbow of love and faith.”
Helen touches on the terrible things humans do (in “Optimism” published in 1903) stating that she “know[s] what evil is“, and warns against taking “refuge from the evils of the world in skyey dreams of good.”
She has this message for us.
“The world is sown with good; but unless I turn my glad thoughts into practical living and till my own field, I cannot reap a kernel of the good.”