When I was a sophomore in college, I was greatly influenced by reading Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus. Perhaps I read it at a moment of serious questioning in my own life. In any event, in the philosophy of Sartor Resartus, I found what was, for me, a satisfying answer as to the aim and purpose of life, an answer to the ever recurring question of the youngster: What is life all about?
The answer, which I formulated then and which has served as a guide through life since that time, is this: We are here to develop the best that is within us. Since that which distinguishes the human from other animals is human nature—that is, the mental and spiritual attributes and abilities of the human being—it seems to me, to follow, that man should endeavor in his life to stress the development of his best mental and spiritual potentials.
I believe in God as a source of truth, that man was given the gift of life on this Earth in order that he might develop, here, the way of truth; that to search for truth is to seek to discover and to understand the laws of God. In the spiritual and mental world—the nonphysical human world—and in the realm of human relationships, the individual mind, in pursuing truth, is met with the issues created by the eternal conflict between the forces of good and evil, of love and of hate, of justice and injustice, freedom and slavery, right and wrong, and similar opposites. The duty of championing the truth also requires that I enlist in the fight for freedom and justice when these requisites for human development are challenged within my sphere of influence.
Conversely, I believe that one of the greatest perversions of this gift of life is to cultivate error, to spread the poison of hatreds, and to encourage those human weaknesses and traits of human nature which drag men down. I pass this way but once, and the time allotted to me is a very fleeting moment. It should, therefore, be my highest aim to utilize to the fullest this moment of time with which God has endowed me.
There are the physical comforts and joys of life which attract us and sometimes absorb us. To be imprisoned in the physical—never to rise above the physical level, to spend one’s life in mere pursuit of physical comforts and satisfactions—that, I believe to be one of the great pitfalls of life. It is this pitfall which in our day has produced the materialistic philosophy of the Socialist and the Communist, and thus brought on the physical conflicts which threaten the foundations of our civilization.
This period of crisis, wherein the forces of truth and error, of good and evil, are locked in one of the most intense struggles in all human history, offers those who are aware of the awful significance of this conflict, a great opportunity for the investment of their lives. We could wish that the conflict had not occurred, that the forces of error were not so strong. But since the great issue is here, I believe this is a wonderful age in which to live.