Truly I did not want to know good and evil. I wanted to know, to believe only the good. I wanted to believe that man could right wrongs, could tilt the lance, could love and espouse the cause of his brother because “an injury to one was an injury to all.” I never liked the appeal to enlightened self-interest. I wanted to love my fellows; I loved the poor with compassion. I could not be happy unless I shared poverty, lived as they did, suffered as they did.
Well, now at fifty, I cannot say that I have been disillusioned. But I cannot say either that I yet share the poverty and the suffering of the poor. No matter how much I may live in a slum, I can never be poor as the mother of three, six, ten children is poor (or rich either). I can never give up enough. I have always to struggle against self. I am not disillusioned with myself either. I know my talents and abilities as well as failures. But I have done woefully little. I am fifty, and more than half of my adult life is past. Who knows how much time is left after fifty? Newman says the tragedy is never to have begun.
I have been disillusioned, however, this long, long time in the means used by any but the saints to live in this world God has made for us. The use of force, the use of diplomacy in foreign affairs, the use of anything but the weapons of the spirit seems to me madness.From a Dorothy Day “On Pilgrimage” column.