This came in today’s mail. I received this in another mailing just last week and I think it’s an appropriate response to all that surrounds us today.
I do not consider myself integrated in the war-making society in which I live, but the problem is that this society does consider me integrated in it. I notice that for nearly twenty years my society-or those in it who read my books-have decided upon an identity for me and insist that I continue to correspond perfectly to the idea of me which they found upon reading my first successful book [The Seven Storey Mountain, his autobiography published in 1948]. Yet the same people simultaneously prescribe for me a contrary identity. They demand that I remain forever the superficially pious, rather rigid and somewhat narrow-minded young monk I was twenty years ago, and at the same time they continually circulate the rumor that I have left my monastery. What has actually happened is that I have been simply living where I am and developing in my own way without consulting the public about it since it is none of the public’s business.
Thomas Merton. Raids on the Unspeakable. New York: New Directions Press, 1964: 172.