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View Full Version : Quote that makes me go "hmmmmm."



Bootsie
1-29-13, 11:16am
A FB friend posted this quote recently and it's been on my mind. As I work diligently to simplify my life, one of my goals is to make room and time for "activism," though I don't really use that word. I use "volunteer projects." I never thought about over-scheduling myself, no matter what the activities are, as violence. When I'm over-scheduled with meaningless and/or stressful activities, I see it as wasteful more than anything, and I hate that waste of time and energy. But, this quote is challenging my thinking as I do tend to think that all of us are capable of doing MORE. I want to be active, really active, in things that have meaning to me, so I push myself in that direction while I declutter the meaningless stuff from my calendar. But by pushing myself in what I consider a good direction - is that violence? Hmmmmm....

What do you think??

"There is a pervasive form of modern 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 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 the activist neutralizes the work, it destroys the fruitfulness of one's own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful."
~ Thomas Merton

sweetana3
1-29-13, 11:43am
Only if it it "too much" for you and your inner peace. If you are shorting each activity of valuable concentration because you are flying from one to another, are you really devoting your true mind and time? I think the extreme pressure of some jobs with 24/7 demanded on time with electronic devices is a form of violence to a person's self.

What can you do deeply and well? How much time do YOU need to decompresse and to truly think about activities? It is a very personal decision.

razz
1-29-13, 12:53pm
I find that I need a lot of time for contemplation of what I am learning and seeing in my life - how to value it, how to implement the desired changes etc.

This thread links well with the thread on saying 'no'.

catherine
1-29-13, 1:17pm
Interesting quote. An I LOVE Thomas Merton, so I paid particular attention to it.

It could be that he was thinking in part about the Vietnam War activists, which of course were prevalent during his time. A lot of them were young, idealistic, busy, and loud. I think his point is that being overcommitted to a cause is violence towards ourselves because our activism should be preceded and fueled by a natural inner process that leads to well-intentioned activity, rather than by being driven external goings-on that keep us unnecessarily frazzled with commitments.

The word "violence" is an interesting choice for sure, though.

Gardenarian
1-29-13, 1:28pm
I do think that violence is not too strong a word to describe activites that are destructive of your inner peace and sense of self. And it is easy to get into a mindset of doing things for the sake of doing things - I agree that all work and volunteer commitments should be carefully considered.

This seems to tie in with Fidgie's thread on saying "NO".

ApatheticNoMore
1-29-13, 2:37pm
I want to be active, really active, in things that have meaning to me, so I push myself in that direction while I declutter the meaningless stuff from my calendar. But by pushing myself in what I consider a good direction - is that violence?

Is doing what you love, or more to the point what you feel passionate about and called to, if that's what you mean, violence? How could it be? Of course if you are only doing it out of guilt, well violence is still not the word, but you shouldn't guilt yourself.


"There is a pervasive form of modern 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 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 the activist neutralizes the work, it destroys the fruitfulness of one's own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful."

He's talking about felt external pressures, I don't think that's what your getting at. If your passionate about being involved with something and it is not just "because I have to". Actually what it addresses is plenty common, burn out in volunteer and activist activities is common. Even in activities that are wildly sucessful just burning out from taking on too much is common, so if that's how you feel, that you are burning out, then cut back, if you feel you want to give more then give more, just read your feelings if they change and you think you are starting to burn out.

Sometimes I get the feeling from all the emphasis on saying "no" that being involved with things is only a burden, when to me it's often that which feels most worthwhile in life, nothing less than that. I do know I'm an introvert in need of some downtime always though, I know I get depressive sometimes and need to withdraw altoghether sometimes at those times etc..

RosieTR
1-31-13, 11:42pm
Interesting thought. I don't know if I'd agree that it's to the level of violence. I do wonder sometimes whether categorizing things in a shocking way cheapens the actual occurrence (using violence, rape, even perfect storm too casually). But the more salient point of running one's self ragged rather than taking/having the time to contemplate the whys of what one is doing, is worthwhile to consider now and then. I do think there are folks who do all this stuff in sort of a martyr position, so maybe that's where he gets the "violence" thing?

Spartana
2-1-13, 2:57pm
What do you think??

"There is a pervasive form of modern violence to which the idealist most easily succumbs: activism and overwork.
I wouldn't consider this violence - but maybe a very mild form of self-flagellation (which is a form of violence I guess). Of course many people want to be over loaded by work and activism. In that case I guess you could say it was "joy" instead of violence.

larknm
2-28-13, 12:25pm
It feels like violence to me when I do it, and to those who depend on my daily presence and attunement (dogs, bird, DH).