Sunday, October 28, 2007


"How do we learn to love our enemies? By seeing them as siblings who are tempted as we are, and attacked by the same real enemy which is the spirit of hatred... This same enemy seeks to destroy us both by pitting us against one another." ~ Thomas Merton


Bob said...

I wonder if Merton actually goes far enough. It seems almost implicit in the idea that our enemies are "tempted as we are" that those enemeis have succumbed to a temptation that we are resisting, otherwise we wouldn't be enemies? And if we view our enemeis as being "attacked by the same real enemy which is the spirit of hatred", then have we resisted the attack of that enemy, where they have been defeated?

Surely to gain an empathy, understanding and even a love of those we most vehemently disagree with or clash with, it is important to avoid a language of dichotomous hatred and love, or temptation and resistance. Recognising the plurality amongst people we need to see others as resisting their temptations in different ways, indeed in having very different temptations, rather than assuming that we are good and that our enemeis have simply failed to be as good, as Merton's language might imply.

Simon Barrow said...

I don't think Merton's language implies anything of the sort. He's saying that at root the enemy is hatred itself, and that we need to recognise we are tempted too. This is the burden of his correspondence with Dorothy day, for example. Which I'll reproduce a chunk of when I get a mo.