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  Anne Sullivan Macy: Miracle Worker

Portrait of Anne Sullivan Macy: Miracle Worker

Anne's Letter to Helen Keller from Puerto Rico (1917, #4)

Date: 1917
To: Helen Keller
From: Anne S. Macy in Puerto Rico

It pains me deeply, Helen, not to be able to believe as you do. It hurts not to share the religious part of your life. To me, as you well know, this life is the important thing. What we do Now and Here matters much because our acts affect other human beings.

I am fond of the Bible as poetry. I find beauty and delight in it, but I do not believe that it was any more inspired by God than all fine writing is,—inspired. The future is dark to me. I believe that love is eternal, and that it will eternally manifest itself in life. I use the word eternal in the sense that it is as far as my imagination can reach.

With you the belief in a future where the crooked places will be made straight is instinctive. Faith in conscious immortality helps you to find life worth living despite your limitations and difficulties. The idea of living forever in some place called Heaven does not appeal to me. I am content that death should be final, except as we live in the memory of others.

Harry Lake brought two Americans to call on us. We talked about the American occupation of the island. The men insisted that the island was better off than when it belonged to Spain. Over and over again they expressed surprise that the natives did not appreciate what we were doing for them. We Americans can't seem to understand that when burglars break into a house, the family can't regard the intrusion as a friendly act, even if the burglars take only a little of what belongs to them.

Harry, who has lived here a year or so, says the people resent the American invasion. They hate our spelling of the name of the island. (They spell it Puerto Rico.) Very poor, quiet, smiling their hate, they wait and hope for the time when they will drive the Americans out. Disdainfully they give us more of the road than is necessary. They hasten to attend us in the shops, but their courtesy is stiff, and I surmise suspicious.

Harry says they only laugh when any one tells them that America means well. They have been fed up on the propaganda that American troops saved them from the cruelty of their Spanish tyrants. One planter said, "Americanos are good investors in foreign people."

Even if we did take Porto Rico as a war trophy, for my part, I don't see why we should want to change everything and irritate the natives. These backward people can't understand, if we are friendly, why we take all their land to plant sugar. Americans don't grasp the idea that if American business takes all the land, the people starve.

In Porto Rico the white man's greed is boundless. The island is absolutely given over to the raising of sugar-cane from which Americans and a few Porto Ricans make fat profits. There is no land left for the raising of food. The children suck the can[e]-stalks to keep the breath of life in them, and that is why they are pot-bellied.

This would be a prosperous island if it could slouch off the sugar-kings who are sapping its life. It would wring your heart to see the misery of these simple folk. The children, especially, tug at my heart-strings, -- wretched little things, always hungry and naked. They die by the hundreds, if one is to judge from the little coffins one sees on the carratera. These children would eat and live if some people we know in New York had only their fair share of earth's bounties.

The weather is divine! I don't know what Warren's cousin means by "enervating climate." To me the climate is perfect. I don't know whether the mornings or the evenings are most beautiful.

Glad you are all well.



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