We like receiving letters. Yes we may groan at the dozens of bills, the advertising leaflets, and the vast number of charity envelopes that fill our mail boxes, but a proper, hand written letter is always welcome! Writing letters? Not so much! Not for all of us anyway. And even for those of us, like myself, who, actually enjoy writing, the effort of putting pen to paper sometimes just doesn’t seem worth it when we know we can dash off an email in a quarter of the time or less. And even if we do decide that that particular sheet of white paper looks particularly appealing today and we dare cross it with out pen and ink, the end result always seems to consist more of squiggly lines and scribbles than of words. And yet, somehow, the prospect of receiving a lovely letter back can make it all worthwhile.
Perhaps this is why so many women write to prisoners. In all likelihood, with so little else to do, they will write back, and we can learn a little about someone else, who, we know, has it worse than we do, deserved or not, and whether it’s a conscious or subconscious notion, we know that they have the power to make us feel just a little better about our own lives. And we feel, perhaps, that we are making a new friend. And perhaps, too, we are wrapped up in a romantic fantasy. They aren’t guilty. Whatever they were convicted of, we are taken in by their hapless story, their pleasant words and we think of our lives as a romantic film, where the heroin is swept off her feet when her pen friend is finally released, after the authorities realize what a mistake they made and he comes to find her.
Perhaps, our efforts would be better spent writing to soldiers. This could I suppose, have the same happy ending, if it’s that belief you are after, and aren’t they more deserving of those painstaking hours spent writing letters in our none too neat lettering, than a man who may or may not (but is most likely not) innocent of the crimes for which he is convicted? Would soldier’s efforts at protecting our country not be a better source for your appreciation, than someone who has done nothing but waste the life these soldiers are fighting to save?