Monday, June 27, 2011

A Year With Thomas Merton - June 27

The Public Vice of War

Comparing the tracts on patience by Tertullian and St. Cyprian. I think I prefer Tertullian—whom Cyprian, in any case, irritated. There is a great vigor in Tertullian’s thought, and a greater, more austere, genius in his style. The struggle for him was far greater and his understanding was deeper. Here was a violent man who realized he had to take with complete seriousness the command of Christ to abandon violence. And who saw that it was naturally impossible. When Tertullian reduces all sin to a root of impatience with God, he is not being arbitrary. What he says is very deep. We need to recover these perspectives.

Laza delVasto has seen a deep connection between play and war. Our society, totally devoted to one (everything is a game), necessarily ends in the other. Play is aimless, and multiplies obstacles so that the “aim,” which does not exist, may not be obtained by the other player. Getting a ball in a hole.

“War is the great public vice that insists on playing with the blood of men.”

War is not caused by hunger or by need. It is the powerful and the rich who make war. The beauty of the grave: it demands a suppression of conscience, and this is done as a matter of “sacrifice” and “duty.” To sacrifice conscience, and the “let go” and kill for the exaltation of one’s nation, made with the need for systematic irresponsibility. Reproach them for this, refuse them their outlet, and they will slaughter you.

June 4 and 5, 1962, IV.223-24

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