Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The winner is war itself

 


“There is one winner, only one winner, in war. The winner is war itself. Not truth, not justice, not liberty, not morality. These are the vanquished.”

-Thomas Merton

HT: Robert Ellsberg 

Monday, August 30, 2021

we do not know the things that are for our peace

 

Credit...Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

        We live in crisis, and perhaps we find it interesting to do so.

Yet we also feel guilty about it, as if we ought not to be in crisis.

As if we were so wise, so able, so kind, so reasonable, that crisis ought at all times to be unthinkable. It is doubtless this “ought,” this “should” that makes our era so interesting that it cannot possibly be a time of wisdom, or even of reason.

We think we know what we ought to be doing, and we see ourselves move, with inexorable deliberation of a machine that has gone wrong, to do the the opposite. A most absorbing phenomenon which we cannot stop watching, measuring, discussing, analyzing,  and perhaps deploring!

But it goes on.
And, as Christ said over Jerusalem, we do not know the things that are for our peace.

-Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, p. 66
Crisis:

a time when a difficult or important decision must be made.

"a crisis point of history"

synonyms:critical pointturning pointcrossroadswatershedhead, moment of truth, zero hour, point of no return.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Our Grief is not a Cry for War

 

Kathy Kelly holds a child at the Chamin-E-Babrak refugee camp in Kabul, Afghanistan, in January 2014, a few days after the child had been saved from a burning tent, during a fire that destroyed much of the camp. (Abdulhai Darya)

"I think in the U.S. people had the impression that somehow the United States was helping in terms of humanitarian issues in Afghanistan. But that’s not really true. There wasn’t a marked improvement in the basics of health care, or in terms of nutrition. Education has not been available to the majority of the people, although it did get better for young girls in in the cities.

"The people who really are the “winners” in all of this — and in the history of U.S. occupation and invasion — are the military contractors, the ones who manufacture the war planes and the bombs and the drones, and the Hellfire missiles and the Apache helicopters and the material for building bases and equipping soldiers. Those are the people who win in these situations.

"I think it’s good to study everything that Pope Francis has said about war and weapons. He has called war-making futile and has asked us to lay aside our weapons. He was so blunt and clear when he spoke to the U.S. Congress, asking why anyone would give weapons to people waging wars. The answer, he said, is simple: It’s money, and the money is drenched in blood.

"But parishes are not necessarily hearing this message of peacemaking from the pulpit. I wish every parish could consider a Pax Christi chapter, would hold study groups to read more about issues of peacemaking. Another thing people can do is welcome refugees into their community, and learn from the refugees."

— Kathy Kelly

From the National Catholic Reporter, August 26, 2021, Q & A with activist Kathy Kelly on Afghanistan, US withdrawal and what’s next

Saturday, August 28, 2021

The total abolition of war

Credit...Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times


What are we to do?

The duty of the Christian in this crisis is to strive with all his power and  intelligence,
with his faith, his hope in Christ,
and love for God and man,
to do the one task which God has imposed upon us in the world today.

That task is to work for the total abolition of war.

There can be no question that unless war is abolished
the world will remain constantly in a state of madness and desperation in which,
because of the immense destructive power of modern weapons,
the danger of catastrophe will be imminent and probable
at every moment everywhere. 

Unless we set ourselves immediately to this task, 
both as individuals and in our political and religious groups,
we tend by our very passivity and fatalism
to cooperate with the destructive forces that are leading inexorably to war. 

It is a problem of terrifying complexity and magnitude,
for which the Church itself is not fully able to see clear and decisive solutions.
Yet she must lead the way on the road to the nonviolent settlement
of difficulties and toward the gradual abolition of war
as the way of settling international or civil disputes. 

Christians must become active in every possible way, mobilizing all their resources for the fight against war.

-Thomas Merton

from Jim Forest's essay, "An Army that Sheds No Blood; Thomas Merton's Response to War"


War is our enemy

 

Credit...Mujib Mashal/The New York Times

“So instead of loving what you think is peace, love other men and love God above all. And instead of hating people you think are warmongers, hate the appetites and the disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed—but hate these things in yourself, not in another (p. 114).”


“War is our enemy (p. 115).”

“The beatitudes are simply aspects of love. They refuse to despair of the world and abandon it to a supposedly evil fate which it has brought upon itself. Instead, like Christ himself, the Christian takes upon his own shoulders the yoke of the Savior, meek and humble of heart. This yoke is the burden of the world’s sin with all its confusions, and all its problems. These sins, confusions and problems are our very own. We do not disown them (p. 134).”

-Thomas Merton, From Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

Friday, August 27, 2021

the fiction called "the enemy"

 

Victor J. Blue at the New York TImes

“I have learned that an age in which politicians talk about peace is an age in which everybody expects war: the great men of the earth would not talk of peace so much if they did not secretly believe it possible, with one more war, to annihilate their enemies forever. Always, ‘after just one more war’ it will dawn, the new era of love: but first everybody who is hated must be eliminated. For hate, you see, is the mother of their kind of love.

"Unfortunately the love that is to be born out of hate will never be born. Hatred is sterile; it breeds nothing but the image of its own empty fury, its own nothingness. Love cannot come of emptiness. It is full of reality. Hatred destroys the real being of man in fighting the fiction which it calls ‘the enemy.’ For man is concrete and alive, but ‘the enemy’ is a subjective abstraction. A society that kills real men in order to deliver itself from the phantasm of a paranoid delusion is already possessed by the demon of destructiveness because it has made itself incapable of love. It refuses, a priori, to love. It is dedicated not to concrete relations of man with man, but only to abstractions about politics, economics, psychology, and even, sometimes, religion.”
-Thomas Merton

from Seeds
Selected and edited by Robert Inchausti
[Boston: Shambhala Publications, Inc, 2002 - page 50]
Originally published in The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton
[New York: New Directions, 1977, pages 374-75]
[Note: This posting originally appeared in this blog on October 14, 2009]

Thursday, August 26, 2021

truth & lies

Photograph of Gal Vihara by Thomas Merton

We are all convinced that we desire the truth above all.

Nothing strange about this. It is natural to man, an intelligent being, to desire the truth. (I still dare to speak of man as "an intelligent being"!)

But actually, what we desire is not "the truth" so much as "to be in the right."

To seek the pure truth for its own sake may be natural to us, but we are not able to act always in this respect according to our nature.

What we seek is not the pure truth, but the partial truth that justifies our prejudices, our limitations, our selfishness. This is not "the truth." It is only an argument strong enough to prove us "right."

And usually our desire to be right is correlative to our conviction that somebody else (perhaps everybody else) is wrong.

Why do we want to prove them wrong?

Because we need them to be wrong. For if they are wrong, and we are right, then our untruth becomes truth: our selfishness becomes justice and virtue: our cruelty and lust cannot be fairly condemned.

We can rest secure in the fiction we have determined to embrace as "truth."

What we desire is not the truth, but rather that our lie should be proved "right," and our iniquity be vindicated as "just."

No wonder we hate. No wonder we are violent. No wonder we exhaust ourselves in preparing for war!

And in doing so, of course, we offer the enemy another reason to believe that he is right, that he must arm, that he must get ready to destroy us.

Our own lie provides the foundation of truth on which he erects his own lie, and the two lies together react to produce hatred, murder, disaster.

-Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, p. 78

[Note: This posting first appeared on this blog on June 23, 2017]

The winner is war itself

  “There is one winner, only one winner, in war. The winner is war itself. Not truth, not justice, not liberty, not morality. These are the ...