The nations of the world were at war, spewing bombs and missiles at each other. Years of senseless killings had taught people to live in alternating states of fear and insouciance, and now they were getting accustomed to living without hope, which, if you really think about it, is a terribly tragic thing to happen.
Which meant that someone had to take matters in their hands, and the obvious choice for the job were the do-gooders, the meddlers, as the task on hand required them to stick their oar in everybody else's affairs.
An initial survey of soldiers and townspeople revealed that people felt most bereft of hope when they received bad news from loved ones; heartbreak and the ending of relations were the most difficult to cope with, sometimes more difficult than news of death, the survey revealed. And so the meddlers decided they had to set right this lapse in communication.
So when letters were written and posted and sent on their way to different parts of the world, the meddlers secretly intercepted the messages, coaxed out the bitter words, replaced them with new ones filled with hope, and sent the notes on their way.
When pretty damsels sent Dear John letters to their men on the warfront, the meddlers saw to it that the soldiers were delivered messages of hope and love waiting for them at home when the war ends.
When the soldiers sent back home notes that spouted poetry and love, the meddlers erased all the soppiness. And the pretty damsels received friendly notes that unfettered them from their old ties - no hard feelings there - liberating them to pursue their newfound love interests.
The meddlers toiled away in secret, replacing profanities with apologies, hatred with compassion, bitterness with humour. And so the writers of the Dear John and Dear Jane letters began to believe it was a good thing to be truthful; after all they had received friendly notes of parting in response.
There were days when some of the meddlers wondered if they were indeed doing the right thing, causing people to live in illusory bubbles of happiness. Their chieftain allayed their doubts saying it was all for a good cause and that people in the town were now happier and no longer without hope.
The damsels have moved on without guilt tying them down to the past, he said. The soldiers are fighting their battles harder in the knowledge, albeit false, that their loved ones were awaiting their return. There is a bloody war going on and we need our soldiers to be strong and our people to have hope, he bellowed.
But what will happen when the truth is revealed?, the doubting meddlers wondered.
Truth has a way of making people get accustomed to it, the chieftain replied. It is hope we cannot live without.
It was all for a good cause alright because the war was won sooner than expected, the happy townspeople set about rebuilding their homes and neighbourhoods and their lives, and the soldiers returned home.
But when the Johns came back home to find their Janes in the arms of strangers, the truths came tumbling out like cats let out of bags. At first there was shock and disbelief, anger and denial. But as the chieftain had predicted, truth prevailed and people have eventually learnt to live with it. But now they are also getting accustomed to living without trust.