Belden Lane, in his book The Solace of Fierce Landscapes, helps us see the contemplative motivation for true social actioion:
” As a Trappist monk writing his autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, from a Kentucky monastery in 1947, Merton came to describe the monk as a true prophet in American society, the only one who is free to do nothing with out feeling guilty about it.
“There is a certain nonacquiescence, a noncompetetiveness that is the common outgrowth of a life of contemplative prayer. Its grounding in silence and nothingness makes it far less susceptible to the ego driven restlessness of contemporary culture.
“The truest impulse toward work for social justice…grows not out or an anxious sense of pity for others or a grandly noble desire to serve, but out of the abandonment of the self in God. A love that works for justice is wholly uncalculating and indifferent, able to accomplish much because it seeks nothing for itself.”
The Solace of Fierce Landscapes, p. 76