Amstelveen, Feb. 1, 1939
Dear Anni, dear Gis,
Thank you very much for you letter. I want to go into something a bit closer. You thought of an ideal as the imagination of a goal, something that lies in the future, and you are convinced that this ideal in life shouldn't be taken from you. I believe that as well, but the question that I meant was: where is that ideal coming from? Surely it isn't anything you are born into, but something that developed as time went on. That is why I think that life is creating ideals, because according to other life circumstances and with other life experiences the life ideal would look differently.
The people you are talking about, of which you Anni are writing that they are dull and content, they aren't like that because they built their ideals in accordance to their lives, but because they don't have any ideals at all. Whoever wants to create higher ideals, can only do it out of life. Let's take for example the idea of a kingdom of God on earth. It is based on the belief of the good in humans. Where is this belief coming from? Out of the tiny part of experiences one has made with a few people, and with a few people one knows and has heard about, and even then, one has to sometimes wait a long time until something can be discovered that could be considered good in people. Who guaranties then, that one never finds a person, or a majority of people who have nothing good to show for? I do believe also that there is good in human beings, I cannot know though, if I won't be convinced of the opposite one day. And if the opposite convinces me and the opposite proof is obvious, then the faith will have to fall too. It hasn't fallen yet, of course, I only want to say with that, that examination stands above the faith, and that a faith that stands in opposition with the mind and reason, cannot hold up. But is it most often so, that faith and reason can exist very well next to each other, that they run parallel to each other and have nothing to do with each other, so that no contradiction develops. But one shouldn't give faith a higher role.
Anni, I can understand very well that you want to break free of the stuff with which you have been raised with, but I don't know if this would be possible alone with the fact that you are in contact with other thinking people. You have the beautiful, but also dangerous gift of amazing rhetoric, which is very helpful during a discussion, which results that you easily come out as the winner through words, without having convinced anyone, and anyways when discussing, one doesn't start with the standpoint of: What will hold up of my opinion, but rather: How will it be possible to convince the other. Only that way will you be able to make yourself independent, by checking if what you have been taught, if the Quaker thought is in congruence with your mentality, if it seems to fit and if it can satisfy your most inner being. Or if you have to bump into opposition, but check it not only of the point of view that the Quaker thought is the only true one, which you have to defend under all circumstances, but make sure to check objectively, or at least in as much subjectivity that you see yourself as the primary thing.
I have been talking to a person here, who has called himself an anarchist, which the anarchists have unjustly gotten a bad rap. I told him many hours about the Quakers, of their faith and work, and when I was finished, he gave me this answer: "That is also a way of expression, maybe even a very good one." He showed me the same ideas and the same spiritual powers , available in all kinds of different religions and worldly opinions, yes even in the atheist ideas, he showed me how things are done better in such and such a thing or in some things worse, how a problem was solved a different way etc. And even if I don't agree with him in all points, I did see that often the fight is all about words, and how really a world view is often only a matter how it is formulated.
My French Visa still hasn't arrived, in spite of all kinds of connections. But I have hope again to come to America. I wrote to Mr. Martin, he now gave me an answer through the American Friends Service Committee, and he made me big promises. It should be very well possible that I could get an admission certificate for one of the universities from over there, and since the study visa is a non- quota type, it should go fairly fast. I shall send in my resume, photo etc. and someone will get connected with the concerning places. Well, I am not very optimistic at this time, but still these are hopes again. I also have received a very good list of the requirements for the study course, the costs, and possible offers after the study. It seems afterwards the possibilities seem really very good.
Gis unfortunately I have to disappoint you about the job with the English family. The position has been taken last week. It probably wouldn't have been anything for you anyways, since the people don't have any children. They promised me however that they would keep their eyes open for something fitting for you. Please write me quickly and let me know if it has to be a paid position.
How far are you now with your Australian affair? Do you have any specific possibilities over there?
Please greet also your parents, Kaethe and Reinhard.
With hearty greetings,
I got restless for some intellectual (spiritual?) activity. Through a friend, I was introduced to a Quaker "Young Friends" group that met monthly. (p 4)
...a plethora of political parties abounded, all the way from communists to the far right movements, including such demagogues as Adolf Hitler... I remember many incidents of street fights, even riots, when we were warned to stay home; these fights were between primarily three dominant political parties: the Nazis, the "Nationalists," and the Communists. (p 2)Each party resorted to violence and manipulation to gain followers or perhaps better put: subjects. This played itself out negatively as the most powerful, manipulative, and violent party won: Hitler’s Nazism. People lost the ability to have conversation and absorb the valid points of the other. This polarization resulted in what we study as the second World War.