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Off and on, I have been sharing selections from Thomas Merton's "New Seeds of Contemplation." I finished reading the book several weeks ago and continue to recommend it highly. I'm closing with a selection on peace and one about hate that I thought were especially valuable today, though they were written back in 1961. The years 1961 and 1962 brought threats to America's existance that make 9/11/2001 pale into insignificance.
From Chapter 16, "The Root of War is Fear"
"When I pray for peace I pray God to pacify not only the Russians and the Chinese but above all my own nation and myself. When I pray for peace I pray to be protected not only from the Reds but also from the folly and blindness of my own country. When I pray for peace, I pray not only the enemies of my country may cease to want war, but above all that my own country will cease to do the things that make war inevitable. In other words, when I pray for peace I am not just praying that the Russians will give up without a struggle and let us have our own way. I am praying that both we and the Russians may somehow be restored to sanity and learn how to work out our problems, as best we can, together, instead of preparing for global suicide."
From Chapter 24, "He who is not with Me is against Me."
"Do not be too quick to assume your enemy is a savage just because he is your enemy. Perhaps he is your enemy because he thinks you are a savage. Or perhaps he is afraid of you because he feels that you are afraid of him. And perhaps if he believed you were capable of loving him he would no longer be your enemy.
Do not be too quick to assume that your enemy is an enemy of God just because he is your enemy. Perhaps he is your enemy precisely because he can find nothing in you that gives glory to God. Perhaps he fears you because he can find nothing in you of God's love and God's kindness and God's patience and mercy and understanding of the weaknesses of men.
Do not be too quick to condemn the man who no longer believes in God, for it is perhaps your own coldness and avarice, your mediocrity and materialism, your sensuality and selfishness that have killed his faith."
This last section flows nicely into the book I'll start discussing on and off in the next few weeks -- Prisoners of Hate: The Congnitive basis of Anger, Hostility and Violence by Aaron Beck. A book with a Grand Unified Theory of Hate that explains barroom brawls, domestic violence, and the endless war in Chechnya with a single principle.
Take care until next time,