A monks wisdom

Here’s something timely that came in the mail today from a Christian monk who died nearly forty years ago. How would the pundits describe him today?

People demand that the government “interfere” in nothing, just pour money into the armament industry and provide a strong police for “security”. But stay out of everything else! No interference in medicine, mental health, education, etc. Never was a country at once shrewder and less wise–shrewd in non-essentials and lunatic in essentials.

I have no doubt the world feels toward America the way many monks feel toward an abbot who wants to exercise total power, to receive unquestioning obedience on the basis of slogans about which he himself ceased thinking about twenty-five years ago, and who above all wants to be loved, so that he many never, at any time, to himself, seem to be exercising power, or loving it. Nobody denies him the power he has: few give him the love that he needs in order to be safe and content. And therefore he uses his power, from time to time, in unpredictable, arbitrary and absurd ways in which he defends his own ends and makes everybody miserable.

Thomas Merton. Turning Toward the World. Victor A. Kramer, editor. San Francisco: HarperSanFranciso, 1996: 259.