Why They Hate Us, 1962

The United States is now spending more each year on armaments than was spent in any year before 1942 for the entire national budget.

People demand that government “interfere” in nothing, just pour money into the armament industry and provide a strong police for “security.” But stay out of everything else! No interference in medicine, mental health, education, etc., etc. Never was a country at once shrewder and less wise — shrewd in nonessentials and lunatic in essentials.

I have no doubt the world feels toward America the way many monks feel toward an abbot who wants to exercise total power, to receive unquestioning obedience on the basis of slogan about which he himself ceased thinking twenty-five years ago, and who above all wants to be loved, so that he may never, at any time, to himself, seem to be exercising power, or loving it. Nobody denies him the power he has: few give him the love that he needs in order to be safe and content. And therefore he uses his power, from time to time, in unpredictable, arbitrary, and absurd ways in which he defends his own ends and makes everybody miserable.

— Thomas Merton
Journals, October 20, 1962, IV.259

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