To be a person implies responsibility and freedom, and both these imply a certain interior solitude, a sense of personal integrity, a sense of one’s own reality and of one’s ability to give oneself to society – or to refuse that gift. (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Merton, in Thoughts in Solitude

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For man to be man – whole, healthy and at peace – he and she must know solitude, the ability to be alone and know he can be in solitude.  For only in solitude is one alone with God, alone with self and soul, alone in intimate quiet with others – past and present, living and deceased.

Yes, there is a monk in all of us, and in some a hermit. We are, you see, contemplative.

Yet, as society grows more intrusive, totalitarian, more governed by rote and simple-minded ideology, more homogenized by mass communication – man is devalued, degraded and the experience of being fully human fades from existence.

In such circumstances we are invaded, the soul assaulted – the sacred inalienable is destroyed and sickness is the norm.  Yes in these conditions we are estranged from our self and one another – left insecure, fearful, anxious, uncertain, unhappy, resentful and dependent.  Yes, today culture deprives us of our humanity.

Listen to Merton:

When men are … submerged in a mass of impersonal human beings pushed around by … forces, they lose their true humanity, their integrity, their ability to love, their capacity for self-determination.

In such a society, solitude is a casualty.  Such a society is held together not by love but by violence and the treat of punishment by those claiming “authority.”

Yes, solitude must be sought in such a society for man and freedom are lost without it, so to: family, community, friendship, faith and meaning.

In solitude one learns to listen and discovers hope.  Yes, solitude is as required as water, air, and food is required.  For we are spiritual in nature and human in form and solitude is an existential need, a necessity of personal autonomy, individual and collective health and flourishing, and required for a free people in a responsible and secure self-governing nation.

We combat the present assault by being spiritual and seeking solitude.  Freedom and the human being vanish if solitude ceases.  We must savor and protect our spiritual existence or we shall cease to be human and free.


Note – A man with a gun was shot by Secret Service personnel near the White House yesterday.  Makes me wonder how it is that the President and those in the White House warrant greater protection than was afforded the men at Benghazi when they were under attack.