Nowadays, much of what passes as patriotism is actually fanaticism. In some quarters our attempts to combat fanatical forces that oppose us has actually engendered a movement towards fanaticism. I read this quote from Thomas Merton tonight and reflected on its message for today.
Everyone who has read the gospel realizes that in order to be a Christian one must give up being a fanatic, because Christianity is love. Love and fanaticism are incompatible.
Fanaticism thrives on aggression. It is destructive, revengeful and sterile. Fanaticism is a ll the more virulent in proportion to as it springs from inability to love, from incapacity to reciprocate human understanding. Fanaticism refuses to look at another man as a person. It regards him only as a thing.
He is either a ‘member’ or he is not a member. He is either part of one’s own mob, or he is outside the mob.
From its very birth, Christianity has been categorically opposed to everything that savours of the mass movement. A mass movement always places the ’cause’ above the individual person, and sacrifices the person to the interests of the movement.–Thomas Merton.
St. Matthew’s Gospel contains this passage.
But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.–Matthew 5:39.