Causality and responsibility

In our modern world the fascination of violence has become, through TV, magazines, movies, radio, etc., almost irresistible. There is now so much free-floating terror and hatred in the moral climate of the world that the slightest and most ridiculous of actions can be interpreted symbolically and instantly unleash mass hysteria on a global scale. The only remedy for this is in a return to the level of spiritual wisdom on which the higher symbols operate. This is easy enough to say: but is it actually possible today? Have we, in fact, simply fallen away from our capacity for “symbolically conditioned action” in the higher sense (guidance by the meaning and wisdom of the higher symbol) and relapsed into purely reflex and instinctive action without reference to meaning, and above all without any rational sense of causality and responsibility?

Thomas Merton
Love and Living