Friday, March 23, 2007


Bio: A Trappist monk, Thomas Merton was one of the strongest voices in the 1960’s writing on a theology of non-violence and speaking against the evils of our society. Merton strongly influenced many of the contemporary Catholics active in peace and social justice today. He himself was influenced by Aldous Huxley, Erasmus and Gandhi. The following excerpt * is from an article that Merton wrote for the 1968 FAX Conference, shortly before his death later that year.


"Non-violence is meant to communicate love not in word but in act. Above all, non-violence is meant to convey and to defend truth which has been obscured and defiled by political double-talk."

"Has non-violence been found wanting? Yes and no. It has been found wanting wherever it has been the non-violence of the weak. It has not been found so when it has been the non-violence of the strong. What is the difference? It is a difference of language. The language of spurious non-violence is merely another, more equivocal form of the language of power. It is a different method of expressing one’s will to power. It is used and conceived pragmatically, in reference to the seizure of power. But that is not what nonviolence is about. Non-violence is not for power but for truth. It is not pragmatic but prophetic. It is not aimed at immediate political results, but at the manifestation of fundamental and crucially important truth. Non-violence is not primarily the language of efficacy, but the language of kairos. It does not say “We shall overcome” so much as “This is the day of the Lord, and whatever may happen to us, He shall overcome.” "

"It may do more than anything else to promote an irresponsible and meaningless use of force in a pseudo-revolution that will only consolidate the power of the police state. Never was it more necessary to understand the importance of genuine non-violence as a power for real change because it is aimed not so much at revolution as at conversion. Unfortunately, mere words about peace, love and civilization have completely lost all power to change anything."

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