Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Year With Thomas Merton - September 29

I Speak Out as One Not Wise

The "Letter to Pablo Antonio Cuadra Concerning Giants" that I wrote last week is bitter and unjust. It lacks perspective. It cannot do much good to anyone in its present shape, and yet I have mailed it off to him and it may get published (though only in Nicaragua) before I have time to make any serious changes.

How did it get to be so violent and unfair?

The root is my own fear, my own desperate desire to survive even if only as a voice uttering an angry protest, while the waters of death close over the whole continent.

Why am I so willing to believe that the country will be destroyed? It is certainly possible, and in some sense it may even be likely. But this is a case where, in spite of evidence, one must continue to hope. One must not give in to defeatism and despair, just as one must hope for life in a mortal illness which has been declared incurable.

This is the point. This weakness and petulancy rooted in egoism, and which I have in common with other intellectuals in the country. Even after years in the monastery I have not toughened up and got the kind of fiber that is bred only in humility and self-forgetfulness. Or rather, though I had begun to get it, this writing job and my awareness of myself as a personage with definite opinions and with a voice has kept me sensitive and afraid on a level on which most monks long ago became indifferent. Yet also it is not good to be indifferent to the fate of the world on a simply human level.

So I am concerned, humanly, politically, yet not wisely.

September 19, 1961, IV.162-63

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