More than any other reason, I have felt compelled to read Thomas Merton because I want to learn how to be constructive and even loving in my opposition to those who support injustice and violence. Nonviolence and the pursuit of justice can be pursued in destructive and counterproductive ways.
I have needed Merton’s challenge to see the good in others with compassion and empathy, seeking their best, not merely seeking to “win” something against them:
“The tactic of nonviolence is a tactic of love that seeks the salvation and redemption of the opponent, not his castigation, humiliation and defeat. A pretended nonviolence that seeks to defeat and humiliate the adversary by spiritual instead of physical attack is little more than a confession of weakness. True nonviolence is totally different from this, and much more difficult. It strives to operate without hatred, without hostility, and without resentment. I works without aggression, taking the side of the good that it is able to find already present in the adversary.”
– Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, 82