At the root of war
THE January number of Pax included (with acknowledgements to the "Catholic Worker-) an article on "The Root of War" by Thomas Merton. I would like to quote from this as a kind of postscript to his "Letter Concerning Giants" which I wrote about a few weeks ago.
He says: "At the root of all war is fear: not so much the fear men have of one another as the fear they have of everything. It is not merely that they do not trust one another: they do not even trust themselves. If they are not sure when someone else may turn around and kill them, they are still less sure when they may turn around and kill themselves. They cannot trust anything. because they have ceased to believe in God."
I T is up to Christians, Merton
says, to mobilize all their resources for the fight against war. "Non-violence is to be explained as a practical method, and not left to be mocked as an outlet for crackpots who want to make a show of themselves". Otherwise, "we tend by our very passivity and fatalism to cooperate with the destructive forces that are leading inexorably to war".
This. he says, is "the great Christian task of our time", and it is our duty to do it, even if we cannot succeed.
Our weapons are prayer and sacrifice ("like all weapons they must be used with deliberate aim") —but to pray for peace while spending millions on armaments: "This I think would certainly be what the New Testament calls 'mocking God' — and mocking Him far more effectively than the atheists do."
It is like praying for health and then drinking poison.
oUR prayer for peace must really be a prayer for peace, not merely for "the liberty to exploit other people without fear of retaliation or interference . . . the freedom to rob others . . . the leisure to devour the goods of the earth without being compelled to interrupt our pleasures to feed those whom our greed is starving . . . To practically everybody peace simply means the absence of any physical violence that might cast a shadow over lives devoted to the satisfaction of their animal appetites for comfort or pleasure".
Fr. Merton concludes: "If you
love peace, then hate injusti hate tyranny, hate greed — I hate these things in yourself, t in another."
For, after all, the cardinal po in all this for a Christian mi always remain not the fear going up in the grand incineratic or even, which seems to me wor the fear of surviving it, but t fear of being responsible for brir ing it about — the fear ti masses of the innocent may killed either instantly or lingt ingly by our hand: that we m become murderers.
IT was distressing to read
"The Times" recently how scheme "to rehabilitate mental subnormal patients by bringii them into closer contact with tl community" has been frustrated Surrey because "no one wan these unfortunate people as neigl bours".
The idea was to turn lari houses in residential areas ml hostels for them. "People expre sympathy, but when it comes I doing anything they say, 'We agre in principle but don't put thei down our street'."
The report concludes that th first hostel designed for th scheme has had to be dropped be cause "in spite of assurances th: there were nb risks involved. th Minister of Housing retused plar ning permission. He agreed wit local residents and parents that th proposal would introduce a 'element of risk'."
D° people believe that th dor;tors who say there is n. risk are incompetent to judge? 0 do they measure risk in a differen way? Or is it simply that they d not like to be reminded that ther are subnormal people who are a human as themselves?
After all, the mentally slit normal person who has bee under the scrutiny of doctors ; far less likely to run amok tha many a "respectable" person wh, is heading for a breakdown. have for some years lived close t a large mental hospital, and every one quite takes I or granted th odd-looking patients they met occasionally shopping while th vast majority would not be recog nised as mental patients at al Children take such oddities a much in their stride as people wit disfiguring birthmarks. cripple; men with beards — or anyone els who they learn is different fror other people to look at, but th same inside.