General Douglas MacArthur was so inspired by Samuel Ullman’s poem about Growing old that he popularized it and kept a framed copy in his office while Supreme Allied Commander in Japan. He quoted it so often in his speeches that it became known as “MacArthur’s Credo.”
We Grow Old by Deserting Our Ideals
By Samuel Ullman
Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years.
People grow old only by deserting their ideals.
Years wrinkle the skin but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles
Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear and despair . . .
these are the quick equivalents of the long years
that bow the head and turn
the growing spirit back to dust.
Whether 70 or 16, there is, in every being’s Heart, the love of
wonder, the sweet amazement of the stars, and the star-like
things and thoughts, the undaunted challenge of events,
the unfailing childlike appetite for “What Next?”
You are as Young as your faith, as old as your doubt,
as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear,
as young as your hope, as old as your despair.
So long as your heart receives messages of
beauty, cheer, courage, grandeur and power from
the earth, from man and from the Infinite, so long are you young.
When all the wires are down, and all the
central places of your heart are covered with
the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism,
then, and only then, are you grown old indeed,
and may God have mercy on your soul.
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