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Violence and the “Enemy”

July 7, 2021

Once more the words of Thomas Merton speak volumes in this world of violence and hatred. The fact that his words from the Sixties are equally relevant today is both amazing and sad.

Violence rests on the assumption that the enemy and I are entirely different: the enemy is evil and I am good. The enemy must be destroyed but I must be saved. But love sees things differently. It sees that even the enemy suffers from the same sorrows and limitations that I do. That we both have the same hopes, the same needs, the same aspirations for a peaceful and harmless human life. And that death is the same for both of us. Then love may perhaps show me that my brother is not really my enemy and that war is both his enemy and mine. War is our enemy. Then peace becomes possible. (preface to the Vietnamese edition of No Man Is An Island, found in Thomas Merton: Essential Writings, p. 115)

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