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The Christmas battle for peace

December 21, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

They lined the trenches, many of them barely more than boys. Across the sodden field, there were more trenches and more men, many, likewise, barely more than boys. They had in common a senseless mission to kill each other, not born of their mutual hatred but spawn from the useless insanity at the top of their command. Insanity that only wanted war. All the men were exhausted from hunger, sleeplessness, fear and days in the mud of the trenches.

It was Christmas, 1914. Somehow, what else they had in common was the notion of Christmas being a time of peace, of the story of a baby who would bring a message of “peace and good will to all men.” They began to sing the songs of Christmas, of the birth and of the message, each in his own language, across that field of mud.

The power of it took the killing away and a truce, unofficial, not permitted by the insanity at the top but present anyway, a truce began between the men, some still nearly boys, who would have been friends anywhere else, a truce happened.

They sang those songs; they called out to each other; they dropped their weapons and climbed out of the trenches to greet each other, every man, boy of them, full of the Christmas spirit – of the longing for peace.

It’s a true story – look it up. It tells the very basic truth, the basic lie about war.

By World War II, they had got rid of the horses in the battlefields, and weapons had come a long way. Still, even then, one of those Christmases, there was another story, another, albeit mini, truce between those who could have been friends in other circumstances but for the insanity at the top.

A German woman and her young son took in three youthful American soldiers, one of whom was badly injured and began to prepare a meal for them. Before long, three young Germans came to her door as well and she told them, admitting to the three Americans she was sheltering, they were to leave their weapons outside.

“This is Holy Night,” she told them, afraid but determined. “there’ll be no killing tonight.”

Then, she took away the Americans’ weapons and they found it possible to celebrate the message of peace for that one night. In the morning, they parted, going their separate ways, wishing each other well, wishing for their survival. 

Also a true story.

Now our battles are everywhere, beyond the trenches. Now our battles are with our own insanity and how to actually admit to it and actually listen to the children calling on us to to change it.

Yet, Christmas is still relevant because it makes us pause to consider everyone beside ourselves, in the thoughtfulness we extend to them with our gifts, our cards and gestures of good will – to all, to loved ones, to strangers. 

What other way is there to deflate the anger and the rush to continue on dangerous pathways? Who of those on the top of their piles will break free of insanity and turn their cleared eyes on a planet and everything upon it, in pain? 

It is no longer just the wars being waged in many corners of our world that so desperately need resolution. It is the much bigger war we are waging on ourselves, which is the same across all nations and cultures. 

How ironic that, what finally brings humanity together is the united despoilment of the planet we all share!!

Wow. How do you talk an entire planet’s people out of that?

This Christmas theme I’m peddling is not about religion; it’s about falling in love. Is there sufficient time for seven billion people to fall in love with this Mother Earth? What I wish for Christmas – let’s use it as a pivot as it is here – is that there be seven billion awakenings, touching every heart and mind, in every dark and bright spot, seven billion voices, saying: “What have we done?”

Fifteen-year-old Swedish autistic girl, Greta Thunberg, stands before packed auditoriums in Sweden and in Poland and says, without flinching or doubt: “If the disaster that is climate change were true it would be every headline, every media would be shouting about it but they are not. But it is true, so, why not? Because we want to  carry on as we have been, not changing anything.”

She says, “Leave the oil in the ground. We have all the inventions and the technology we need to make the changes that we must, to change the course of climate change.”

She wants it to start now. Thing is, she is right.

We need a permanent global truce with ourselves. Leave the fossil fuels in the ground. Change waste to energy. 

Fall in love with our planet. It is not our enemy. It is our home.

Merry Christmas. 



         

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