One of the Quotations I Keep on my Office Wall

The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence….

The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his work for peace. It destroys his own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of his own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.

Thomas Merton (1915-1968)

4 thoughts on “One of the Quotations I Keep on my Office Wall

  1. The first portion of that quote put me in mind of the book “Future Shock”, which posited that given the ever quickening pace of change eventually we won’t be able to take it all in, thus a sort of violence being done to us all, however passive.

    The second portion, I’m put in mind of Nelson Mandela’s passing yesterday and might point to him as a counter-example; someone whose inner capacity for peace remained whole despite his activism.

    1. I’ve been feeling sad about Mandela’s passing all day. I know he was in his 90s and it was his time, but knowing he is no longer with us makes the world feel diminished. I suspect Nelson Mandela knew the importance of pausing and reflecting before acting. He accomplished what he did by being a thoughtful activist rather than a thoughtless busyist.

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