…there is a contemporary form of violence to which the idealist fighting for peace by nonviolent methods most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence. The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his or her work for peace. It destroys one’s own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of one’s own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful. Thomas Merton
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When you reflect on this quote by Merton, do you find yourself convicted?
Or do you find his language of “violence” too extreme?
I have never thought of chronic activity as violence, but it strikes me as true. It does violence to the soul.
It makes a relationship an agenda item.
It creates a resentful soul who views himself a martyr – the one doing real ministry while everyone else is sitting around.
It prizes idealistic notions of vulnerability, community, mission, or Gospel…and is not often experienced.
It steals away the opportunity for joy, for gratitude, for appreciation.
It manifests in a bitter and judgmental soul.
It misses the beauty of the present.
It claims to be right.
It cannot Rest.