About the Image (above): Interior, Grand Central Station, New York, New York (January 21, 2007) by Carol Highsmith. Image from the Library of Congress
I had another topic in mind for Provocations #6, but I’m going to take a different tack instead. Frankly, I’ve been too busy to give much thought to the original subject, which called to mind a passage from the writer, Thomas Merton (1915 – 1968). Merton was an American Trappist monk; a theologian, a mystic, a student of comparative religion, a poet, and a social activist. In his book (I love this title), Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, Merton writes:
“There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence to which the idealist most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. 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 demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”
His words are obviously directed towards activists for positive social or environmental change. But they apply more broadly.
Give Yourself a Break
This is a personal cost of our hectic, even frantic lifestyles. Others include detrimental affects on our health and on our relationships.
There are larger more insidious costs as well. Our busyness, overwork, and the stress induced by them, prevent us from questioning the status quo; from holding our leaders accountable; from making healthy choices for the planet and for us; from reflecting on the impacts of our lifestyle choices; from working on positive change.
So give yourself a break. Take some time for friends and loved ones. Spend some time out in nature, she’s the greatest muse we have. Give your brain a little space to function. And we might find ourselves well on the way to making the world a little better and happier place.
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