Respect for Life – 6 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – The Nonviolent Alternative

by Mark Votava

22847301. Respect for life, for freedom, for truth, for justice

“…where there is a deep, simple, all-embracing love of man, of the created world of living and inanimate things, then there will be respect for life, for freedom, for truth, for justice and there will be humble love of God.  But where there is no love of man, no love of life, then make all the laws you want, all the edicts and treaties, issue all the anathemas; set up all the safeguards and inspections, fill the air with spying satellites, and hang cameras on the moon.  As long as you see your fellow man as a being essentially to be feared, mistrusted, hated, and destroyed, there cannot be peace on earth…”

2. We are responsible for the present

“We are responsible for the present and for those present actions and attitudes of ours from which future events will develop.  It is therefore supremely important that we get a grip on ourselves and determine that we will not relinquish either our reason or our humanity; that we will not despair of ourselves, or of man, or of our capacity to solve our problems; that we will make use of the faculties and resources we still have in abundance, and use them for positive and constructive action in so far as we can…”

3. Hopelessly attached to all that makes war inevitable

“We must now face the fact that we are moving closer and closer to war, not only as a result of blind social forces but also as the result of our own decisions and our own choice.  The brutal reality is that, when all is said and done, we seem to prefer war; not that we want war itself, but we are blindly and hopelessly attached to all that makes war inevitable.”

4. Orientate our efforts towards world unity and not towards world division

“It is true that we live in an epoch of revolution, and that the breakup and re-formation of society is inevitable.  But the Christian must see that his mission is not to contribute to the blind forces of annihilation which tend to destroy civilization and mankind together.  He must seek to build rather than to destroy.  He must orient his efforts towards world unity and not towards world division.  Anyone who promotes policies of hatred and of war is working for the division and destruction of civilized mankind.”

5. A concept of sanity that excludes love

“And so I ask myself: what is the meaning of a concept of sanity that excludes love, considers it irrelevant, and destroys our capacity to love other human beings, to respond to their needs and their sufferings, to recognize them also as persons, to apprehend their pain as one’s own?  Evidently this is not necessary for ‘sanity’ at all…”

6. We love money, possessions, comfort

“…it is because we love money, possessions, comfort, etc., more than other men that we enter into conflict with our fellow man, in order to take for ourselves what we do not wish to share with him, even if in order to fulfill our desires we must destroy our enemies…”

Which quote do you like the best?

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