World Peace – 3 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – The Nonviolent Alternative

by Mark Votava

22847301. The great question of responsibility

“…it is certainly necessary that we study and clarify the great question of responsibility.  We have to make up our minds and form our conscience in regard to participation in the effort that threatens to lead us to universal destruction.  We have to be convinced that there are certain things already clearly forbidden to all men, such as the use of torture, the killing of hostages, genocide (or the mass extermination of racial, national or other groups for no reason than that they belong to an ‘undesirable’ category).  We have to become aware of the poisonous effect of the mass media that keep violence, cruelty and sadism constantly present to the minds of  unformed and irresponsible people.  We have to recognize the danger of the whole world in the fact that today the economic life of the more highly developed nations is centered largely on the production of weapons, missiles and other engines of destruction.  We have to consider that hate propaganda, and the consistent nagging and baiting of one government by another, have always inevitably led to violent conflict.  These are activities which, in view of their possible consequences, are so dangerous and absurd as to be morally intolerable.  We have still time to do something about it, but the time is rapidly running out.” 

2. Love might be more meaningful and powerful than force

“Freedom does not operate in a void.  It is guided, or should be guided, by the light of intelligence.  It should conform to a rational estimate of reality.  It should not be simply an arbitrary exercise of choice.  Blind affirmation of will is irrational and tends to destroy freedom.  In any case, however, whether rational or not, freedom depends necessarily on man’s concept of himself and of the situation in which he finds himself.  If he is able to grasp clearly and realistically the truth of his plight, even though that plight may be desperate or extremely perilous, he can make good use of his freedom and can transcend even the most tragic injustices and be more truly a man because of them.  He can turn defeat into victory.  On the other hand, the will that is obsessed with power can refuse to see and to assess vitally important realities.  It can remain obdurate and closed in the presence of human facts that contradict its obsessions.  It is often precisely the will to power that is most stubborn in refusing to accept evidence of goodness and hope.  The blind drive to self-assertion rejects indications that love might be more meaningful and more powerful than force.”  

3. Collaboration in building world peace

“One of the most important tasks today is to clear the atmosphere so that men can understand their plight without hatred, without fury, without desperation, and with the minimum of good will.  A humble and objective seriousness is necessary for the long task of restoring mutual confidence and preparing the way for the necessary work of collaboration in building world peace…”

Which quote do you like the best?

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

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