We all have moments in our lives when we could use a little reassurance. We probably all did at the age of four, like little Otis Allen from Cardiff, Wales in the United Kingdom.
One night while being tucked in for bed, Otis asked his mother, Gerry Holt, if the human race would one day go extinct "like the dinosaurs."
Holt wasn't sure how to reply to this question, so like any good parent, she did not dismiss the question. Instead, she suggested Otis get some rest and they would spend some time writing a letter to Sir David Attenborough, a well-esteemed English writer and naturalist, the next day.
Quite to their surprise and pleasure, Attenborough actually replied just three days later.
His reply read:
"Dear Otis, thank you for your letter."
"You ask whether human beings will become extinct as the dinosaurs have become."
"The answer is that we need not do so as long as we look after our planet properly."
"Best Wishes, David Attenborough"
My little boy (age 4.5) wrote to Sir David Attenborough to ask if humans would be extinct one day “like the dinosau… https://t.co/b53B77mt2s— Gerry Holt (@Gerry Holt) 1615974313.0
Holt could not get over the gesture.
"I was just staggered."
"There's something really special and poignant about a 94-year-old conversationalist who has spend his life working to save the planet corresponding with a four-and-a-half-year-old who's just at the very beginning of his journey to understand the impact of climate change and our behavior on the planet."
This was surely something Otis will always remember, too.
"Otis was really thrilled. He's really fascinated by venus fly traps at the moment, so he's been watching video clips of Sir David talking about them."
"His little face just lit up when I read the letter to him this morning... but I think he'll need to be a bit older before he really understands the significance."
Holt had endless praise for Attenborough.
"[He is] a wonderful human being and a national treasure."
"[His letter] made us all smile. He has that innate ability to inspire and engage people, whether it's speaking at UN climate change talks or writing to a young boy about the dinosaurs."
"It's thanks to people like Sir David that Otis will grow up knowing about the climate emergency we face, and I think we should all be so grateful for his work."
Some Twitter users shared their own lovely memories of Attenborough.
@Gerryholt One of my most treasured possessions is a photo (a few in fact) of my daughters deep in conversation wit… https://t.co/OgVnKtesp0— Julian Shea (@Julian Shea) 1615983822.0
@Gerryholt My brother who is now 40 wrote him a letter when he was about 7 asking if he could go on safari with him… https://t.co/UR2ywpgwRN— Joanna Rowlands (@Joanna Rowlands) 1616012504.0
@Gerryholt @LettersOfNote When I was a kid, I wrote to ask Sir David how I could work in the sea looking after whal… https://t.co/uJp2sV4Z4Z— SeaBeast (@SeaBeast) 1615984210.0
@Gerryholt I wrote to David Attenborough when I was 6 years old. I told him all about the blue tits nesting in a bi… https://t.co/HQEkMlszNl— Dr Pam Dugdale #StayHome #WindowsOpen #WearAMask (@Dr Pam Dugdale #StayHome #WindowsOpen #WearAMask) 1616010307.0
Others simply shared their admiration.
@Gerryholt How lovely! Can’t help but to recite the letter out loud to myself. With a probably very poor attempt to… https://t.co/Qvb0EArxYf— Kenneth Barnes (@Kenneth Barnes) 1616012802.0
@Gerryholt Yes, he's miles beyond "national treasure". Whatever he is, he's planetary— Whitters (@Whitters) 1615984889.0
@Gerryholt He continues to go up in my estimation!— SJ Evans (@SJ Evans) 1616006919.0
It's heartwarming to see someone of such clout reaching out to a young child to answer their question.
Surely if more of us did this for the children of our generation, the world could be an undeniably better place.