Thomas Merton wrote “The white man, says Lauren Van Der Post came into Africa (and Asia and America for that matter) like a one-eyed giant, bringing with him the characteristic split and blindness which were at once his strength and torment and ruin… The one-eyed giant had science without wisdom”
I read Merton’s essay Gandhi and the One-Eyed Giant in 1969 soon after returning from the Vietnam War. It helped me understand my gut level opposition to the war I fought. I already knew the war was a mistake, stupid and immoral. Merton’s introduction to Gandhi on Non-Violence put my experience as a former seminarian and intelligence agent in historical context. He gave me a deeper understanding of our war, my church’s male dominated western culture, racism, imperialism, Native American genocide and economic colonialism. This insight set me on a course of political activism and personal transformation.
I reflect on this having just returned from a Thomas Merton conference where we explored Sophia, the feminine expression of the divine, in Merton’s life and writing. I listened to and learned from articulate and powerful women.
My earlier exposure to the one-eyed giant prepared me to explore my pre-Christian Celtic roots and made me less resistant to women’s wisdom as my wife, daughter and others invited, taught or challenged me about my male blindness.
I invite us to reflect on who, which books, art, music, teachers and conversations gave us insight that changed our lives. In our polarized society it is helpful to know what made us more conscious. With an open mind and heart we can all improve and help others find paths to a peaceful life and more just society.
Please share a similar insight.