Baker, James

Letter
Date:
February 8, 1945
To:
Mom and Dad
From:
Jim
February 8th, 1945

Dear Mom and Dad,

First of all Mom, many happy returns for you birthday which (if my memory serves me correctly) should be sometime this month. I regret to say I do not know the exact date but you know what kind of a head I have for any kind of numbers: they just go in one ear and out the other: I don't know why. It's the same with people's names, somehow people's faces always stick though.

Well Dad, I am glad to see that at last you are ‘head of the Legion', not only because I think you deserve it, but also because I think it is the best thing that could have happened, looking at it from the point of view of us who are over here. We are going to need help so badly when we get back and honestly, I do not know of anyone so eminently capable as yourself to give it to us. I only hope they give you a ‘free hand' to carry out your own ideas, for I am sure that they are going to be of immense help to us. By this time, you have received and digested the letter I wrote about Stan and the other boys I saw in hospital with him. I wrote it in the ‘best of passion' and I usually find that my pen carries me away when I write at moments when I am profoundly moved. It is not good because people usually mistrust strong emotions, fearing perhaps they carry no spiritual convictions and are not dictated so much by reason as by emotion. Well Dad, I have been thinking a lot about that letter, and I can see no reason to change a single syllable in it, I am convinced that what I said in it is nothing more than the stark-naked truth and is therefore all the more biting and startling! I cannot understand it myself when it affects us all so closely!

I suppose you and Mom are wondering what my plans are for myself aren't you? Well, at present, they are very hazily taking shape along two very definite lines with one goal in view. I have become convinced that my greatest gift is the ability I have for helping other people with their difficulties and problems: things that affect their intimate lives. That may startle you a little, seeing that I seem to have made such an effective mess of my own life! I have never told you very much about my life over here, have I? Not told you very much at all really. But I have several times managed to help people out that were pretty sadly adrift in their lives, and I think I have been able to put them right again. At least if nothing else, I have been able to make them forget themselves enough to unburden their souls to someone else - bring all their problems out into the open and talk them over with a second person (other than themselves) and ask advice. Whether they followed the advice I gave is quite another matter, the great thing is that they faced up to themselves and brought their fears out into the open. That is always 3/4 of the battle! So as I say, I have been thinking for some time that my greatest gift is that, my ability to inspire confidence in other people in-themselves and to help them. So I have made that my goal in life. From the end of the war, there are two paths open to me and which one I choose, depends a good deal upon circumstances. They are both equally attractive to me: the one perhaps a little more so than the other.

The one more attractive is extremely nebulous as yet, and concerns Mr. Simpson. He may or may not make me an offer to stay over here and work with him after the war or after I have taken my degree at a Canadian University. I have nothing more to work upon than ‘vague hints' he has made from time to time. However, I can say there is nothing I can think of I would rather do than working ‘for and with' him. He is that kind of a person you know. One never thinks he is working for him, it is always with him.

The other, the Canadian Government fills the whole picture. After I have finished my ‘tour of operation' here (if the war does not end in the meantime and transfer me out to the Far East to finish that other half-forgotten war on the other side of the world) I shall be probably sent home and discharged immediately. Then, I become eligible for the government's ‘Rehabilitation Programme' and I have made up my mind to go to University to get my degree. I haven't quite made up my mind what degree it will be, but I think I will probably have ‘Political Economy' in there somewhere. Probably some Psychology as well. They seem to be my two greatest assets and interests at present. I suppose you have heard me talk about my individual politics long enough to know that I mistrust all party politics entirely. I can see no sense in attacking one's politics (and ultimately one's conscience and scruples) to one particular party to the exclusion of all other political ideas. There is only one man in the world today who has any conception of the trend of future politics: no - there are two. They are Jan Christian Smuts and President Franklin D. Roosevelt. They are both Inter-Nationalists and both decry nationalism and petty patriotisms. And both live one hundred years before their time! I suppose Wendell Wilkie and Wilson had glimmerings of the right idea, but they both committed political-suicide trying to carry them out. Smuts and Roosevelt are both too realistic to die that way and therefore, their ideas will live long after they are dead. So far as I can see, our machine-age has only begun and at present, our machines ‘are ruling us' instead of ‘us ruling our' machines. Our whole basic economy must be changed and it will probably take 2000 years to do it. But the ‘seeds are being sown' in the world today, they began when Christ preached His ‘Sermon on the Mount' and they have never ceased growing. I am convinced that only when man produces good from his machines and gives his services as a duty to his fellow-men as an obligation that he owes to the world and not as a means of accumulating luxury and idleness for himself, not until then will we begin to progress forward. The day when that begins to happen is a long way-off perhaps, but I am convinced that it is coming. We have seen some evidence of it in Russia today and I know we will see even greater advances there tomorrow, but they have not yet succeeded in ridding themselves of many of the cruel-shackles imposed by the world in which they live. But they will - I know they will, and I greatly fear that we in America are going to find ourselves very far behind in the world unless we can adopt the ideas that are alive in Russia and China today. Many people I know fear Russia - some even go so far as to say we will be at war with Russia within the next 25 years. I do not think so in fact, I know we will never be so if only we can free ourselves from the lies and half-truths being falsely spread by selfishness-inspired people who stand to lose their greatest luxury - their idleness, and are willing to see the truth for ourselves and admit the truth when we see it. People are so foolish, they read an opinion and because it has the ‘ring-approval' of a public figure and a self-styled expert, they accept it as a truth and never bother to form their own opinions. That is where our educational system fails so sadly. We never teach our children to assemble and assimilate a group of facts and form an authoritative opinion. Psychologists have given it a high-sounding name "Inductive Analysis": I call it plain "Horse Sense': but it is so lacking amongst people today! And people themselves are to blame for it. They have the ability, they have simply let it rot-away - and carry with it, their mind and personality. Think of the many slipshot, shoddy men and women you know - the loose thinkers, the drifters, the people of no set-convictions, no tenacity of purpose, no power of analysis, no power of thought-transference, no moral integrity. And then, how many that are their exact opposite do you know? For everyone of the latter, there are a hundreds of the former. It's a pretty sad state of affairs isn't it? That's your job Dad, you and the others who are at home right now planning and working for our home- coming. You've got to learn to spot these signs of the weakness in us and ‘kill' them as quickly as you can. It is an insidious evil thing that grows on our minds like a running open sore upon the body of a beggar, and never did it have such a ‘fertile field' as it has now; Service-life lowers all the world's standards and the ‘patient's-resistance' almost ceases to exist. You have a big job Dad, a very big one! Must close now. Pills arrived OK. Thanks!

Love to all,

Jim








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