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A Philosophy of Life for a Time Like This (a Chaplain Message from 1942)

“Many attitudes toward life indicate a lack of moral and perhaps even mental virility. They represent indifference toward the principles of living, rather than any clear cut attitude toward life.

“It is easy to be a hedonist and follow the principle that sensory pleasure is the chief good in life and that moral duty is fulfilled in gratifying our appetites, and then go out for fun and a good time.

“It is easy to be a skeptic and carry our incredulous attitude to an excessive degree to every aspect of life.

“It is easy to be a cynic and sneer at rectitude and the conduct of life by moral principles. Cynic and cynical come from a Greek derivation meaning, ‘dog-like;’ a particular kind of dog – one which is surly and snarls at every thing and every one.

“It is easy to be a fatalist and assume that whatever is to be will be, and there is no need of trying to make the results otherwise; no need to struggle against undesirable situations and outcomes.

“It is easy to be an opportunist and seek only immediate advantages with little or no regard for principles of ultimate consequences and, like Esau of old, sell our birthright for a mess of pottage.

“But any adequate adjustment toward life must be positive, and we must appraise life in terms of remote good rather than immediate benefits.

“There is one fundamental principle upon which we can build, which is as staunch as steel, as everlasting as truth, and as necessary to a sound philosophy as air is to life itself. That principle is faith. We need faith in ourselves, faith in our fellows, faith in human nature, faith in religion, faith in the Church, faith in God, and particularly faith in a democratic society such as we have been trying to build on this side of the Atlantic. We need faith in plain old fashioned character. No form of Government will work well without men of character in control. All staunch character needs the undergirding of faith in God and the principles of religion.” -Thomas M. Carter, Lieutenant Colonel, District Chaplain (2nd District, Army Air Forces Technical Training Command)



The above message was written by Army Air Corps Chaplain (LTC) Thomas Carter. Written above the message of this copy, which apparently was sent home to family, was written: “Every time it is time to get paid we get something like this from the chaplain. I guess he thinks we should be thankful we are getting paid. Maybe.” Below is the original:

Chaplains Message written and distributed by Chaplain (LTC) Thomas M. Carter, 2nd District Army Air Forces Technical Training Command Chaplain, Spring 1942 (author’s collection).



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