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Nothing Is Done

“Nothing is done,” Lincoln Steffens once wrote. “Everything in the world remains to be done—or done over. The greatest picture is not yet painted. The greatest play isn’t written. The greatest poem is unsung.” Nothing is perfect, we can add. There’s no perfect airline. There’s no perfect government. There’s no perfect law.

Faucets still drip, as one did years ago in the Steffens household. As he and his seven-year-old son tried to fix it, Steffens had to admit that his generation could not make a fit faucet. “But,” said Steffens, referring to his son, “he may.”

There’s a job for him and his generation in the plumbing business, and in every other business. Teach your children that nothing is done, finally and right; that nothing is known, positively and completely; that the world is theirs—all of it.

Bits and Pieces, April 1990, p. 7