Love and Collaboration – 9 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – Contemplation in a World of Action

by Mark Votava

51Xo2PA2R+L._SL500_AA300_1. A certain superficial uniformity

“We live in a world of chaotic and revolutionary change.  The development of rapid communications and of mass media has insured a certain superficial uniformity in the thinking of ‘the common man’ all over the world.  And yet can we say precisely who is this ‘common man’?  He has an enormous variety of ideas and influences acting upon him, and often his mentality is an extraordinary mixture of mental clichés that he has picked up at random without knowing where they come from or what they imply.  Yet his mind often remains shallow, dissatisfied, frustrated – unless by chance it becomes simply complacent and passive, habitually reacting to mental stimuli without real thought and without mature response.”

2. The refusal of solitude

“One of the most characteristic American ways of evading the identity problem is conformism, running with the herd, the refusal of solitude, the flight from loneliness…”

3. A basic self-respect and mature identity

“Togetherness is not ‘community.’  To love our brother we must first respect him in his own authentic reality, and we cannot do this if we have not attained to a basic self-respect and mature identity ourselves.” 

4. We think we have the answer

“…we are so obsessed with the idea that we are supposed to possess ‘answers’ and ‘solutions’ for everything that we evade the difficult problems, which are all too real, by raising other less real problems to which we think we have the answer.”

5. Honesty, humility and courage

“There are some problems in life which are not to be solved except by being lived with all the honesty, humility and courage that grace and nature can provide for us.”

6. Where questions are not asked

“To choose a value that is questioned and doubted is to place oneself in the position of being doubted.  The mature person is able to assume this risk.  He can embrace an unpopular idea, commit himself to it and to its consequences, and accept the fact that it means becoming a problem and even in some way a ‘scandal’ to others.  It is in this way that most people today have to establish and affirm their identity.  But it takes courage to do this.  Hence all values are questioned, or can be: to embrace any of them is to become an object of questioning and doubt.  Those who shrink from personal responsibility shrink from this also.  They seek to rest on an infallible authority or else take refuge in an area where questions are not asked.”

7. A more authentic and honest way

“The question remains: can we adjust our life and our view of our life in such a way that it will be capable of being lived in a more authentic and honest way…”

8. Love and collaboration

“It is the person who has fully realized his identity and accepted it that is able not only to face God in solitude but also to meet his brother in love and collaboration.”

9. The immature person

“The immature person, when forced to be silent, tends to experience his inauthenticity and has no escape from it…”

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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