Two Quotes from Thomas Merton: Do we understand violence?

These two quotes from Thomas Merton are key to understanding and discovering the root cause of violence in our society. Violence is a symptom. A symptom generated by the root cause. If we only treat the symptom it will never end, we must as a society treat the root cause.

Treating the root cause of violence takes more than a village to accomplish. And there is the heart of the problem that must be addressed first. If we as a society do not collectively understand what it means to be a human being and the difference it makes then we will spend the rest of our lives treating the symptom, and like the common cold treating the symptom just makes us “feel good” for a moment but never eliminates the root cause.

See-Judge-Act. A methodology that can assist us in better understanding what we need to do, as humans for the greater good of society. You can also think of these three in terms of Observe-Discern-Act but the key is taking action, implementing the solution, and making sure the solution is sustainable.

Think about these two quotes from Thomas Merton in the context of See-Judge-Act.

Ask yourself the question: How do I know I am doing the greater good?

The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of contemporary 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. The frenzy of our activity neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.


To some men peace merely means the liberty to exploit other people without fear of retaliation or interference. To others peace means the freedom to rob others without interruption. To still others, it means the leisure to devour the goods of the earth without being compelled to interrupt their pleasures to feed those whom their greed is starving. And to practically everybody peace simply means the absence of any physical violence that might cast a shadow over lives devoted to the satisfaction of their animal appetites for comfort and pleasure.

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