This message from an Army Captain made my year:

Dr. Phillips,

Thank you for your work towards improving democracy and healthy dialogue throughout the world.

I am a company commander in the U.S. Army, and I started hosting Socrates Café dialogues with my junior leaders weekly while we were deployed to Iraq. One intriguing discussion took place when a platoon leader posed the question, “Are we storm troopers?” These have been important dialogues mainly focused on ethics, leadership, and sacrifice. I’d be happy to offer more feedback if you are interested.

Socrates Café has been a successful means of helping junior officers and non-commissioned officers to appreciate other perspectives and practice active listening and communication. I would like to continue doing this weekly at a dining facility on post at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

May I have your permission to facilitate this group while abiding by your goals and ideals? I am also interested in membership with your Society of Philosophic Inquiry.

Thank you again.


Alex H. Carlier


A/39th BEB Commander


At a time when our current President, who avoided military service, is set to pour willy-nilly massive amounts of funding for the military-industrial complex, it is more vital than ever that there is a focus on “ethics, leadership, and sacrifice” as CPT Carlier put it

And I’m thrilled beyond words that Captain Carlier finds my “work towards improving democracy and healthy dialogue throughout the world” to be so vital, and so apropos to his own mission. One of our nonprofit’s amazing board members, Paul Martin, served in Naval Special Warfare and had a two-year tour as a U.S. Navy Reserve SEAL.

I find this particularly so:

— because of my late father Alex Phillips’s own military service and his subsequent stellar career in the Department of the Navy, where he rose to the highest echelons a the Supervisor of Shipbuilding in Newport News, VA; my father told me how he was so proud of my ‘legacy’, including my years-long labor of love holding Socrates Cafe inquiries (many of which I relate in my books) with troops and at military bases, an endeavor he considered essential to our democratic evolution

— and because while so many still serve and willingly put their lives on the line, and even make the supreme sacrifice, so that open societies might thrive and live on, I can tell you from firsthand experience that lamentably there are those (including retired military officers overseeing defense acquisition) who do not any longer place a premium on ethical and honorable service or even behavior; and i’m sure I’m far from the only one who has a sibling or other member of one’s immediate or extended family from the Baby Boomer generation who only lives for purposes of self-aggrandizement, who has no moral compass of any sort, and could not care a whit about service or duty to others (and indeed would find such concepts laughable, tragically)

So thank you thank you thank you Captain Carlier for your message, which could not have arrived at a better time in my life — and in the life of our democracy.