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Nonviolence – Thomas Merton

June 9, 2021

These words from Thomas Merton are from an article he wrote for Fellowship of Reconciliation’s pamphlet dated May, 1967. They are as relevant today as they were when he first wrote them. In a world of increasing divisiveness and violence, we need to hear these prophetic words and follow them.

Christian nonviolence is not built on a presupposed division, but on the basic unity of humankind. It is not out for the conversion of the wicked to the ideas of the good, but for healing and reconciliation… Nonviolence must be aimed above all at the transformation of the present state of the world, and it must therefore be free from all occult, unconscious connivance with an unjust use of power. This poses enormous problems—for if nonviolence is too political it becomes drawn into the power struggle and identified with one side or another in that struggle, while if it is totally a-political it runs the risk of being ineffective or at best merely symbolic.

We have much to do, dear reader, if we are to truly be the instruments of peace God through the voice of Saint Francis of Assisi calls us to be. The question for the church is this—is the church willing to divest itself from divisiveness and fear-mongering? Are those of us who call ourselves Christ-followers willing to take the necessary steps? Will our work be merely symbolic or will it be meaning-filled… Spirit give us strength and lead us in that path.

One Comment
  1. Symbolic or meaning filled? It seems safer on the edges of a justice movement, than in the deeper commitment that facilitates change. Thanks for your post.

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