Significant Social Change – 8 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – Seeds of Destruction

by Mark Votava

41pOurJW4eL._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_1. Can no longer be contained by token concessions

“…for revolutions are always the result of situations in which the drive of an underprivileged mass of men can no longer be contained by token concessions, and in which the establishment is too confused, too inert and too frightened to participate with the underprivileged in a new and creative solution of what is realized to be their common problem.”

2. Significant social change

“Does all profoundly significant social change have to be carried out in violence, with murder, destruction, police repression and underground resistance…”

3. We cannot afford to ignore

“What remains to be said?  It is true that Gandhi expressly disassociated himself from Christianity in any of its visible and institutional forms.  But it is also true that he built his whole life and all his activity upon what he conceived to be the law of Christ.  In fact, he died for this law which was at the heart of his belief.  Gandhi was indisputably sincere and right in his moral commitment to the law of love and truth.  A Christian can do nothing greater than follow his own consciousness with a fidelity comparable to that which Gandhi obeyed what he believed to be the voice of God.  Gandhi is, it seems to me, a model of integrity whom we cannot afford to ignore, and the one basic duty we all owe to the world of our time is to imitate him in ‘disassociating ourselves from evil in total disregard of the consequences.’”

4. Block off the reality of the other

“To shut out the person and to refuse to consider him as a person, as an other self, we resort to the impersonal ‘law’ and ‘nature.’  That is to say we block off the reality of the other, we cut the intercommunication of our nature and his nature, and we consider only our own nature with its rights, its claims, its demands.  In effect, however, we are considering our nature in the concrete and his nature in the abstract.  And we justify the evil we do to our brother because he is no longer a brother, he is merely an adversary, an accused, an evil being.”

5. Only humility

“…only humility keeps man in communion with truth, and first of all with his own inner truth…”

6. Too often we start out

“Too often we start out with the assumption that all the answers are quite clear, and that we of course are the ones who know them.  That everyone else is malicious or ignorant, and that all that is required is for everyone to listen to us and agree with us…”

7. Silence and solitude

“…your solitude itself will do an immense amount for you…  Silence is a rare luxury in the modern world, and not everyone can stand it: but it has inestimable value, that cannot be purchased with any amount of money or power or intelligence.”

8. The places in which we are attached to our inner egoism

“In practice, the events of life bring us face to face, in painful situations, with the places in which we are attached to our inner egoism…”

Which quotes do you like the best?

Here are some other posts I have done on Thomas Merton and his writings.