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Monday, August 20, 2012

Merton and the Non-Violence of Listening

I've been reading a great deal of Merton lately, and came across the following quotation that has, I think, relevance for us given the fractious and disheartening state of political discourse here in the United States.  The quotation comes from an article on non-violence, and Merton perceptively makes the point that a central part of non-violence is willingness to listen to our adversaries, and even to learn something from them.  It is, he suggests, a type of violence simply to reject the other as wrong, unreasonable, inhumane, etc.  He writes about the benefits of listening to the other as follows:
"The dread of being open to the ideas of others generally comes from our hidden insecurity about our own convictions.  We fear that we may be 'converted' - or perverted - by a pernicious doctrine.  On the other hand, if we are mature and objective in our open-mindedness, we may find that viewing things from a basically different perspective - that of our adversary - we discover our own truth in a new light and are able to understand our own ideal more realistically."
 - Thomas Merton, "Blessed are the Meek: The Christian Roots of Nonviolence"

1 comment:

  1. I have always enjoyed reading Merton. He brings new life to meaning.

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