Thomas Merton’s defence of Thich Nhat Hanh

I was delighted to discover than a wonderful defence of the Young Thich Nhat Hanh was put up by Thomas Merton;


This is not a political statement. It has no ulterior motive, it seeks to provoke no immediate reaction “for” or “against” this or that side in the Vietnam war. It is on the contrary a human and personal statement and an anguished plea for Thich Nhat Hanh who is my brother. He is more my brother than many who are nearer to me by race and nationality, because he and I see things exactly the same way. He and I deplore the war that is ravaging his country. We deplore it for exactly the same reasons: human reasons, reasons of sanity, justice and love. We deplore the needless destruction, the fantastic and callous ravaging of human life, the rape of the culture and spirit of an exhausted people. It is surely evident that this carnage serves no purpose that can be discerned and indeed contradicts the very purpose of the mighty nation that has constituted itself the “defender” of the people it is destroying.

 Certainly this statement cannot help being a plea for peace. But it is also a plea for my Brother Nhat Hanh. He represents the least “political” of all the movements in Vietnam. He is not directly associated with the Buddhists who are trying to use political manipulation in order to save their country. He is by no means a Communist. The Vietcong is deeply hostile to him. He refuses to be identified with the established government which hates and distrusts him. He represents the young, the defenseless, the new ranks of youth who find themselves with every hand turned against them except those of the peasants and the poor, with whom they are working. Nhat Hanh speaks truly for the people of Vietnam, if there can be said to be a “people” still left in Vietnam.

To read the article go HERE

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