Every once in a while a quote or passage grabs me in a way that I know, if revisited often, it will actually change my actions. This passage from Thomas Merton’s Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander was one of those. Merton speaks to the heart of busyness and the real casualty thereof: our “work for peace.” The world is certainly moving faster than it was when this was written in 1966, and the message is even more relevant:
“There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence ....
(and that is) 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.
The frenzy of our activism 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.”
- Thomas Merton, American Catholic writer, social activist, theologian, and mystic
Finally convinced to weed out some busyness in your life? What exactly does that look like? For example, I sometimes just simply drop the ball on finishing emails after dinner in favor of reading. I’m willing to be seen as a little less reliable and responsive in order to find peace. What are some ways you “succumb to violence” that you’re willing to give-up today? Please share in the comments!