Thomas Merton on Resistance

I’ve been thinking (as many have) about what it means to resist in our particular time in history, and how difficult it is not succumb the infectious anger and the addiction to outrage that exists and persists in our world today.

Intellectually, I know that the heart of peaceful resistance is not repaying hate for hate or anger for anger and actually loving our neighbors and our enemies just like Jesus told us to do. But just because I know it doesn’t mean I can always do it.

But I found this passage from Thomas Merton that really reframes the issue for me.

“Merely to resist evil with evil by hating those who hate us and seeking to destroy them, is actually no resistance at all. It is active and purposeful collaboration in evil that brings the Christian into direct and intimate contact with the same source of evil and hatred which inspires the acts of his enemy. It leads in practice to a denial of Christ and to the service of hatred rather than love.”
Thomas Merton (Passion for Peace; Reflections on War and Nonviolence)

An “active and purposeful collaboration in evil.” The idea that to return hate for hate is collaborating with evil takes the inability to love my enemy to a whole new level. I can deal with being a failed Christian. I’ve had a lot of practice at that, but a collaborator with evil?  I’m not okay with that.  If loving my enemy can help keep me from a life lived in service of hate and anger, I can work a little harder at doing it.


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