“The great temptation is to fear going it alone, wanting to be ‘with it’ at any cost. But each one of us has to be able to go it alone somehow. You don’t want to repudiate the community, but you have to go it alone at times. If the community is made up of a little group of people who always try to support one another, and nobody ever gets out of this little block, nothing happens and all growth is being stifled. This is possibly one of the greatest dangers we face in the future, because we are getting more and more to be that kind of society. We will need those who have the courage to do the opposite of everybody else. If you have this courage you will effect change. Of course they will say, ‘this guy is crazy’, but you have to do it.
“We are much too dominated by public opinion. We are always asking, what is someone else going to think about it? There is a whole ‘contemplative mystique,’ a standard which other people have set up for you. They call you a contemplative or a hermit, and then they demand that you conform to the image they have in mind. But the real contemplative standard is to have no standard, to be just yourself. That’s what God is asking of us, to be ourselves. If you are ready to say “I’m going to do my own thing, it doesn’t matter what kind of press I get,’ if you are ready to be yourself, you are not going to fit anybody else’s mystique.”
- from a talk that Merton gave at the Cistercian monastery, Our Lady of the Redwoods, as recorded by David Steindl-Rast - September, 1968