Fear, Gandhi, and Thomas Merton

Mohandas K. Gandhi (the “Mahatma” – the great-souled one), was assassinated India, on January 30, 1948. Since I first read some of his writings in the 1960s I have been moved by his call for courageous resistance to injustice. This is no easy call – but I think it’s part of our call as humans, especially as followers of the nonviolent Jesus:

“Just as one must learn the art of killing in the training for violence, so one must learn the art of dying in the training for nonviolence. Violence does not mean emancipation from fear, but discovering the means of combating the cause for fear. The votary of nonviolence has to cultivate the capacity for sacrifice of the highest type in order to be free from fear. He reckons not if he should lose his land, his wealth, his life. [Whoever] has not overcome all fear cannot practice nonviolence to perfection. The votary of nonviolence has only one fear, that is of God.”

As I re-read this quote, I recalled Thomas Merton’s remarkable essay, “The Root of War Is Fear,” found in his  New Seeds of Contemplation. As he wrote:

“At the root of war is fear; not so much the fear that men have of one another as the fear they have of everything. It is not that they do not trust one another; they do not even trust themselves.”

May the Lord deliver us from fear and give us the courage to speak truth to power, not counting the cost.

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