Quality Advice

40 Years Ago This Week, 'Peanuts' Author Charles Schulz Sent A 10-Year-Old A Beautiful Patriotic Letter

“What makes a good citizen?”

Cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, creator of the "Peanuts" comic strip, draws in his studio near a stuff...
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If the world's political climate stresses you out, you’re not alone. As the count on the midterms votes in many key states hang in the balance, political stress — and civic duty — might be at the top of your mind, and even at the top of mind for your big kids. But if you want to ground yourself — and calm yourself — you can start by reading a beautiful letter the Peanuts author sent to a 10-year-old more than 40 years ago this week. His patriotic letter gets to the heart of what we should all be focusing on now — and feels almost like a meditation of sorts against the chaos of the world.

Peanuts author Charles Schulz undoubtedly made a mark on the world with his iconic cartoon and his outlook on life. And now, more than 20 years after his death, a letter the cartoonist wrote to a fan in the 1970s is hitting home with a message many of us need to hear.

According to Letters of Note, a Twitter profile that shares historical letters, on November 9, 1970, Schulz replied to a letter he received from a 10-year-old boy named Joel.

In the letter sent as part of a fifth-grade assignment, Joel asked Schulz, “What makes a good citizen?” His reply is beautiful.

“Dear Joel,” he begins the letter. “I think it is more difficult these days to define what makes a good citizen then it has ever been before. Certainly all any of us can do is follow our own conscience and retain faith in our democracy.”

And the rest of his letter is a surprisingly fitting message of advice that works for today, too.

“Sometimes it is the very people who cry out the loudest in favor of getting back to what they call ‘American Virtues’ who lack this faith in our country,” he continued.

“I believe that our greatest strength lies always in the protection of our smallest minorities,” the letter concluded, signing off “Sincerely yours, Charles M. Schulz."

The Peanut stories have become true classics, including A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, which is a Thanksgiving viewing tradition for many families. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving will be free to stream from November 23 to November 27 on Apple TV+, and you can watch as many times as you like during that window.