Baker, James

Letter
Date:
February 12, 1945
To:
Mom and Dad
From:
Jim
February 12, 1945

Dear Mom and Dad,

I suppose this letter should be really addressed to you Mom - seeing that it is the answer to yours of January 15th, but I know Dad feels precisely the same about the things you have mentioned, although he finds it very difficult to say anything about what he does or does not believe in. I find you are so typically English in that characteristic and - loving people over here as I have come to do during the past years, it has taught me an even greater love and understanding of you. However enough of that, I think your actions speak far plainer than any words you could utter, so I have a pretty fair idea of your ideals and they must be somewhat the same as Mom's, otherwise you could not make the happy married couple you are. So I find you believe in God - but what I think is an even greater belief, you believe in your fellow-men. You trust them - and in the world in which we live today, that is something singularly unique and precious. If you had given nothing other than this gift to your children, they would be among the richest of mortals if they too, had only been able to absorb the wisdom and love that is yours. Have we been able to absorb it? I honestly do not know. Certainly, many things are plainer to me now than they have been before. Sadie made me a much bigger man than I ever was before. I had to help her over her difficulty, I had to put her back in the world again and I knew it would be a risk to me, but I just couldn't let her remain so dead. Well, I put her back again as I knew I could but I also fell in love with the old vivid self I had resurrected, as I knew I would. I tried so hard to fight it but it was no use. Then, when I knew she no longer loved me as I loved her came the greatest temptation of my whole life, and that is when you people at home helped me so much, even though you were not aware of it. It would have been so easy to turn on her and accuse her of being loose-lived and a weakling, a coward or almost anything else and I suppose - that in most people's eyes, I would have been justified. But I knew I could never justify myself in your eyes if I succumbed to my desire for revenge and so I held myself in check. That was long enough to tide me over the first shock and enable me to start thinking again. It was then I discovered Sadie still needed me to help her! She has not the strength of moral purpose that you have managed to build up in us - your children. I suppose to some it would seem she was selfish to ask me to help her over a difficult time when she must have known that the very sight of her, made my heart bleed afresh. But I learned many things during those two days that have more than repaid the ache in my heart. I have never regretted my restraint and I know I never shall. But I know too that I never found the strength within myself, it was your strength I used. And you receive your strength from God so I suppose - indirectly, it was God's strength I used. I know I believe in God - but I know too, I do not believe in God as you do, how can I do so when I have seen so much more of the horrors of life and death than you have and so much that I cannot ‘possibly reconcile with an idea of universal love' such as your conception of God is. Rather, I have found God in the spirits and ideals of fellows and in the good-uplifting influences of my own conscience. That is why I have learned so to love English people; their conceptions and the understanding of their courage and idealisms have led me to God. That is why I have no fear of death. That is totally absent from me, because I can trust Him to do what is best for me. You ask me has the ‘crash' affected my nerves at all? Well, I think you have your answer. It did not even make me turn a hair, not because I am a brave person, but because I have no fear of anything harming me while God is caring for me. I have been scared before - in mortal terror, but I have never really feared death so much as maiming. Now - I still fear maiming a little, but I know that even that cannot hold its old terror for me because I have discovered the great powers of my mind. Never again will I fear that I shall never be able to fill a place in society - for in God's purpose, every mortal has a place and no-one is superfluous. So I know that I too shall have a place commensurate with my fitness and readiness to accept my responsibility. This past five years I can see now, has been my training period and I am nearly ready to take my place. The war has always been a mere incidental to me, even when I was in the raids; I never seemed able to dissociate my mind from my body. I was always storing up the experiences of the one in the other and learning something new and startling about human beings... I am still learning and I hope I always shall continue to love people as I now do. It is the greatest force in my life at present and I think if I continue with Mr. Simpson as I hope to be able to do, it will continue to be the biggest single thing in my life. I wish you could know Mr. Simpson. There are many things about him that I know you would not entirely agree with, but his aim in life, I know you would applaud.

Also I wish you to get to know another man, and this man you both can know and love as I do, even though he is no longer alive. His name is Alfred Adler and he was a great psychologist, perhaps one of the greatest men who ever lived on earth during our day. He was a great man because he believed - as you do, in the triumphant strength of the human soul to overcome all weaknesses and follies, and he believed in and loved his fellow man. He founded his ‘school of psychology' upon this belief - and it was he who found the answer to Freud's challenge "Why should I love my neighbour?" You can know this man through his faithful disciple whom you have met already, Phyllis Bottome is her name and she has written his biography in ‘moving words' such as cannot fail to impress you with their sincerity. So, will you please read these two books of hers: "Alfred Adler" and "Survival". They will interest you so that you cannot lay them down: I guarantee it! You may also see his surprising conclusions regarding ‘duodenal ulcers' which have been mine also ever since I started thinking about them. So Dad, I am certain that as long as you continue to have faith in your God and in His strength to prepare you for all contingencies and in His power to succor you and yours from all perils, your pains will never again haunt you as they have done so cruelly in the past. Isn't it peculiar how we can so love a person and yet, never realize what is on their mind until we remove ourselves from their presence? We are too close to see them entirely.

Love to all as always,

Jim


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