Friday, October 7, 2011
A Year With Thomas Merton - October 7
America, The World's Mad Abbot
Clarity in the early morning studying William of Conches on Plato's Timaeus. The dark, the silence. Then, clarity at Mass, exactly at down. The sun is now rising at seven and I am clothed in dawn light as I stand at the altar (the first rays of the sun add the only warmth in the chapel). Then after, the day is warm.
The United States is now spending more each year on armaments than was spent in any year before 1942 for the entire national budget.
People demand that the government "interfere" in nothing, just pour money into the armament industry and provide a strong police for "security." But stay out of everything else! No interference in medicine, mental health, education, etc., etc. Never was a country at once shrewder and less wise--shrewd in nonessentials and lunatic in essentials.
I have no doubt the world feels toward America the way many monks feel toward an abbot who wants to exercise total power, to receive unquestioning obedience on the basis of slogans about which he himself ceased thinking twenty-five years ago, and who above all wants to be loved, so that he may never, at any time, to himself, seem to be exercising power, or loving it. Nobody denies him the power he has: few give him the love that he needs in order to be safe and content. And therefore he uses his power, from time to time, in unpredictable, arbitrary, and absurd ways in which he defends his own ends and makes everybody miserable.
October 20, 1962, IV.259