Thursday, September 22, 2011
A Year With Thomas Merton - September 20
Love Best Shown by Deeds
Yesterday, having received a note from Ethel Kennedy (wife of the attorney general and sister-in-law of the president), I wrote her an explicit statement of objection to the resumption of nuclear testing. At least this much I can do. Yet there is something very unsatisfactory, something not quite true, about this whole moral question. This idea that it is important to take a "stand" as an individual. As if by mere gestures and statements one could satisfy conscience. And as if the satisfaction of one's conscience (emphasis on satisfaction) was the great thing. It can become a mere substitute for responsibility and for love. Mao Tse Tung said there would be no love until the Revolution had triumphed. There is a grain of truth in this--in this very great and misleading lie. Yet that one grain is what I lack. Confucius said: "The higher type of man is not like a vessel which is designed for some special use." He was wiser than we monks are.
September 5, 1961, IV.158