The present world crisis is not merely a political and economic conﬂict. It goes deeper than ideologies. It is a crisis of man’s spirit. It is a great religious and moral upheaval of the human race, and we do not really know half the causes of this upheaval. We cannot pretend to have a full understanding of what is going on in ourselves and in our society. That is why our desperate hunger for clear and deﬁnite solutions sometimes leads us into temptation. We oversimplify. We seek the cause of evil and ﬁnd it here or there in a particular nation, class, race, ideology, system. And we discharge upon this scapegoat all the virulent force of our hatred, compounded with fear and anguish, striving to rid ourselves of our fear by destroying the object we have arbitrarily singled out as the embodiment of all evil. Far from curing us, this is only another paroxysm which aggravates our sickness.
The moral evil in the world is due to man’s alienation from the deepest truth, from the springs of spiritual life within himself, to his alienation from God. Those who realize this, try desperately to persuade and enlighten their brothers. But we are in a radically different position from the first Christians, who revolutionized an essentially religious world of paganism with the message of a new religion that had never been heard of."
— Thomas Merton
From his essay “Christian Action in World Crisis”
Passion for Peace: The Social Essays of Thomas Merton; William Shannon, editor (New York: Crossroad, 1995), p 83.
HT: Jim Forest
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