Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

All is “Zero”



Merton-zero-webAll has become one, all has become indifferent, all has been leveled to equal meaninglessness.... It is not that all is "one" but all is "zero." Everything adds up to zero. Indeed, even the state, in the end, is zero. Freedom is then to live and die for zero. Is that what I want: to be beaten, imprisoned, or shot for zero? But to be shot for zero is not a matter of choice. It is not something one is required either to ""want" or "not want." It is not even something one is able to foresee.

Zero swallows hundreds of thousands of victims every year, and the police take care of the details. Suddenly, mysteriously, without reason, your time comes, and while you are still desperately trying to make up your own mind what you imagine you might possibly be dying for, you are swallowed up by zero. Perhaps, subjectively, you have tried to convince yourself and have not wasted time convincing others. Nobody else is interested. What I have said so far concerns execution for a "political crime." But death in war is, in the same way, a kind of execution for nothing, a meaningless extinction, a swallowing up by zero.

Thomas Merton. OCSO
Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, pp. 92-93


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