“There is a pervasive form of contemporary 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 its 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 our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”
– Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander
“… it destroys the fruitfulness of our own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom …” This points me to an understanding about being and doing. When I *do* from a place of frenzy, inner unrest, anxiety, I am actually bringing that energetic disturbance into my doing. Who and how I *be* matters! If I am frantically working for peace, am I creating peaceful energy or frantic energy?
As I write, it is December, a month that is so often filled with all the usual life and work to-dos, PLUS a whole lot more. It is easy to succumb to the overdoing, to unrealistic expectations which may include:
- the end of the fiscal year push at work
- extra events at the kids’ schools
- honoring family traditions related to the holiday
- financial stress given the extra shopping, cooking, traveling…
This season of the year, this season of your life, consult your inner wisdom:
What do I REALLY value?
What really matters?
What violence blocks its realization?
What am I willing to release?
Once you are clear within yourself, once you know what you will release – what changes you’ll make in order to live less violently – ask yourself:
Who will be impacted by my changes?
What, if anything, do I need to discuss with them?
How might they support me?