Moral fantasy

Hence it becomes more and more difficult to estimate the morality of an act leading to war because it is more and more difficult to know precisely what is going on. Not only is war increasingly a matter for pure specialists operating with fantastically complex machinery, but above all there is the question of absolute secrecy regarding everything that seriously affects defense policy. We may amuse ourselves by reading the reports in mass media and imagine that these “facts” provide sufficient basis for moral judgments for and against war. But in reality, we are simply elaborating moral fantasies in a vacuum. Whatever we may decide, we remain completely at the mercy of the governmental power, or rather the anonymous power of managers and generals who stand behind the façade of government. We have no way of directly influencing the decisions and policies taken by these people. In practice, we must fall back on a blinder and blinder faith which more and more resigns itself to trusting the “legitimately constituted authority” without having the vaguest notion what that authority is liable to do next. This condition of irresponsibility and passivity is extremely dangerous. It is hardly conducive to genuine morality.
From: Thomas Merton. Passion for Peace: The Social Essays. William H. Shannon, ed. New York: Crossroad, 1995: 113-114.

2 Replies to “Moral fantasy”

  1. I just sent an earlier comment but I’m not sure it got through. Reading your comments and getting a feeling about the kind of person you are, gets me to think of a few people who I have known and liked who I think are similar (obviously this is on pretty sketchy info) very spiritual, Catholic (which I used to be)intelligent, socially aware and concerned and even with some liberal tendencies (which I love) and peaceful. You generate an incredible sense of peace.You give religion a good name as opposed to so many people. I look forward to reading your thoughts and spending time with that sense of peace.

  2. Thank you for the kind words. I am spiritually centered or at least I try to be. I tend to be drawn to the more mystical parts of Roman Catholicism, but I’m not doctrinaire. A little catechism and dogma go a long way with me. I’m drawn to Merton and other mystical, monastic writers. Thank you for your comments about peace. I’m humbled by what you have said. 🙂 Don.

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