Saturday, December 3, 2011

Very Relevant Quote

Thanks to Vox Nova for this quote from Thomas Merton, which strikes me as very relevant given that I know people who (in the mauvaise foi sort of way) reject their own (and others) spiritual (and even just psycho-emotional) agency through this sort of viewing themselves as inevitable products of modernity, as if that somehow constitutes an excuse for the rot within them:

So now [about to enter Columbia as an undergraduate, after two failed years at Cambridge], when the time came for me to take spiritual stock of myself, it was natural that I should do so by projecting my whole spiritual condition into the sphere of economic history and the class-struggle. In other words, the conclusion I came to was that it was not so much I myself that was to blame for my unhappiness, but the society in which I lived.

I considered the person that I now was, the person that I had been at Cambridge, and that I had made of myself, and I saw clearly enough that I was the product of my times, my society, and my class. I was something that had been spawned by the selfishness and irresponsibility of the materialistic century in which I lived. However, what I did not see was that my own age and class only had an accidental part to play in this. They gave my egoism and pride and my other sins a peculiar character of weak and supercilious flippancy proper to this particular century: but that was only on the surface. Underneath, it was the same old story of greed and lust and self-love, of the three concupiscences bred in the rich, rotted undergrowth of what is technically called ‘the world,’ in every age, in every class. [From part one, chapter four, "Children of the Marketplace," p. 147 of the Harvest Books edition, 1999]

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