Peace on Earth …

On this Christmas Day I hope that the memory of this event serves to show us that people want peace, and left to their own devices peace is what they do. Most humans by nature would rather make love than war. It is our leaders, and their lies, madness, stupidity, and greed, that lead us into war. As the world slips further into insanity and yet another terrible world war looms on the horizon, I can only hope that enough people everywhere , of all faiths, choose peace rather than war. We are all brothers and sisters in God’s eyes, Dear God give us the strength to act like it.

From Doug’s Darkworld

I was planning to write a piece today about the meaning of peace, and how the phrases we all spout around this time of year like “Peace on Earth” and “Goodwill toward men” are more than just empty platitudes. I wanted to spend some time talking about how peace and better understanding amongst people are no more difficult than making the effort, and how it is through acts of uncommon bravery and compassion by common, everyday people that we truly make a difference.

I was going to write something like that today, and I’m sure it would have been good, but a friend beat me to it, and did it in a way that I think I’ll just point at his piece and say “What he said.” In 1914, after 6 months of some of the most brutal and dehumanizing violence mankind has ever engaged in, the soldiers on both sides of the trenches laid down their arms in a spontaneous gesture of goodwill for Christmas Day. Doug’s discussion of the event is poignant and interesting, even as he talks about how little incident ended up affecting the course of The Great War.

And while its true that the 1914 Christmas Truce didn’t put an end to war forever … while its true that the leaders of the day worked to actively suppress the news and impact of it, and largely succeeded … and while its true that today, almost 100 years later, we still routinely kill our brothers, one might argue that the 1914 truce was meaningless, and had little effect on today, that there’s no way it can be what I described in my first paragraph. But the incident stands out as a stark reminder of the power of the people over their leaders. Its a reminder that war and killing requires complicity from everyone, from the generals giving the orders down to the private who carries them out, and that while Generals can certainly stop wars through diplomacy and peace treaties, the real key to peace is that Privates actually laying down their arms. What the 1914 truce shows us is that the everyday man has the true power in those instances … once the decision is made not to kill the man across the trench, war cannot continue. We could argue that because war still exists, men like Gandhi failed in their attempts as well, but that argument would be wrong IMO … incidents like these are a reminder that people always have the final power over their leaders. I only wish we’d use it more often.

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