The Danger of 20/20 Foresight

thom4I think we can replace “Catholics” with “American Christians” in this quote from Thomas Merton’s “Cold War Letters” — especially in times like these when what is required of us is higher-level thinking and complex compassion in order to address the pressing needs of the poor today.

In what other ways does the “illusion of clarity” prevent us from loving one another or draw us into a web of power over others?

Many Catholics make the mistake of thinking that the problems of our time are very clear-cut, that there is no difficulty in seeing the truth, and that since the just cause is very evident, we need only to apply force to achieve justice. But precisely this illusion that everything is “clear” is what is blinding us all. It is a serious temptation, and it is a subtle form of pride and worldly love of power and revenge.—Thomas Merton

Witness to Freedom: Letters in Times of Crisis, edited by William H. Shannon (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1994, p. 79).

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