Merton on nonviolence

Wow, this just blew me away.

“Nonviolence must avoid the ambiguity of an unclear and confusing protest that hardens the warmakers in their self-righteous blindness. This means in fact that in this case above all nonviolence must avoid a facile and fanatical self-righteousness, and refrain from being satisfied with dramatic and self-justifying gestures.

Perhaps the most insidious temptation to be avoided is one which is characteristic of the power structure itself: this fetishism of immediate visible results. Modern society understands “possibilities” and “results” in terms of a superficial and quantitative idea of efficacy. One of the missions of Christian nonviolence is to restore a different standard of practical judgement in social conflicts. This means that the Christian humility of nonviolent action must establish itself in the minds of modern people not only as conceivable and possible, but as a desirable alternative to what they now consider the only realistic possibility: namely, political technique backed by force. Here the human dignity of nonviolence must manifest itself clearly in terms of a freedom and a nobility which are able to resist political manipulation and brute force and show them up as arbitrary, barbarous and irrational. This will not be easy. The temptation to get publicity and quick results by spectacular tricks or by forms of protest that are merely odd or provocative but whose human meaning is not clear may defeat this purpose.”

–Thomas Merton, from Passion for Peace.

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