History is Ours to Make – 9 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Writings – Passion for Peace: The Social Essays edited by William H. Shannon

by Mark Votava

21QKSHS3GPL._BO1,204,203,200_1. Hatred of ourselves

“It is not only our hatred of others that is dangerous but also and above all our hatred of ourselves: particularly that hatred of ourselves which is too deep and too powerful to be consciously faced.  For it is this which makes us see our own evil in others and unable to see it in ourselves.”

2. The total abolition of war

“The only sane course that remains is to work frankly and without compromise for the total abolition of war…”

3. Speak by actions

“Christians have got to speak by their actions…”

4. We cannot escape present reality

“It will not do us any good to wish we were other than we actually are, or that we were in some other century, some other planet.  We cannot escape present reality.  We cannot all offer ourselves to be frozen up and comfortably hibernate through the critical years that are to come, in order to wake up painlessly in a new world.”

5. 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…”

6. History is ours to make

“We must learn to distinguish the free voice of conscience from the irrational compulsions of prejudice and hate…  We cannot think this way unless we shake off our passive irresponsibility, renounce our fatalistic submission to economic and social forces, and give up the unquestioning belief in machines and process which characterizes the mass mind.  History is ours to make…”

7. Impatience, willfulness, self-assertion, and arrogance

“Impatience, willfulness, self-assertion, and arrogance will not help us…”

8. Where minds are full of hatred

“…where minds are full of hatred and where imaginations dwell on cruelty, torment, punishment, revenge and death, then inevitably there will be violence and death.”

9. The unlimited freedom of the corporation

“It seems to me that we have little genuine interest in human liberty and in the human person.  What we are interested in, on the contrary, is the unlimited freedom of the corporation.  When we call ourselves the ‘free world’ we mean first of all the world in which business is free.  And the freedom of the person comes only after that, because, in our eyes, the freedom of the person is dependent on money.  That is to say, without money, freedom has no meaning.  And therefore the most basic freedom of all is the freedom to make money.  If you have nothing to buy or sell, freedom is, in your case, irrelevant.  In other words, what we are really interested in is not persons, but profits.  Our society is organized first and foremost with a view to business, and wherever we run into a choice between the rights of a human person and the advantages of a profit-making organization, the rights of the person will have difficulty getting a hearing.  Profit first, people afterwards.”

Which quotes do you like the best?

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