By Gabriel McMorland
I’m grateful for the work the Thomas Merton Center has been able to do in 2018. We helped workers win back more than $10,000 in stolen wages in the winter, and then joined a new campaign with workers who were never paid for construction of luxury housing. Our coalition won the campaign to prevent use of armed officers to collect fares on public transit. We picketed the PNC annual shareholders meeting demanding they divest from nuclear weapons and confronted the mayor and other leaders about the inevitable mass displacement if they succeed in attracting Amazon’s second headquarters. We also joined more than a dozen organizations in holding a beautiful May Day march celebrating immigrants and workers.
In this whirlwind of activity, I found myself returning to a quote from Thomas Merton,
“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 the violence of our times.”
In reading Merton’s advice, I hear more than a suggestion to stay well rested and drink eight glasses of water a day. His words tell me we cannot let our work overshadow our humanity. He reminds me that we should discern our own place in larger movements and support the growing leadership of people around us.
I know many of us also feel an urgent need to create focus and efficiency in our turbulent times. I hope this will not lead us into the trap of trying to identify the single most important issue facing all humanity, or the umbrella issue encompassing all other struggles. Instead, let’s approach our own work with strategy and conviction, while helping each other to reflect on how the problems we see arise as symptoms of deeply tangled oppressions.
I hope that you, too, found Merton’s words reassuring. I would love to know your thoughts on this and welcome responses in the pages of The NewPeople or at email@example.com.