Friday, September 18, 2009


One of my favorite stories from World War I has to be the story of the Christmas Truce of 1914. In the midst of trench warfare with both sides losing thousands upon thousands of men, a brief pause in action was able to take place. Christmas trees (or the Tannenbaum to the Germans) were put up, carols were sung, men from both sides crossed into "no man's land" to shake hands and exchange chocolate, spirited beverages and cigarettes and even in some sectors games of football broke out. For a brief moment in the ugliest war that the world had ever seen - peace was able to happen. As Stanley Weintraub described it, "But perhaps more important, many troops had discovered through the truce that the enemy, despite the best efforts of propagandists, were not monsters. Each side had encountered men much like themselves, drawn from the same walks of life - and led, alas, by professionals who saw the world through different lenses." John McCutcheon would later sing about "the ones who call the shots won't be among the dead and lame, and on each end of the rifle we're the same." Every time I think about this, it reminds me of the people I "fight" and "struggle" with. Despite my differences with them, are they really that different from me? Are the people we consider our enemies whether that be the opposite political party, the Taliban running rampant in Afghanistan, or simply the people in our lives that we don't like - truly our enemy? And even if we find ourselves consistently opposite of one another - is it really worth the fight to prove who is better or right? Instead of pulling the trigger every time we encounter someone opposite of ourselves, perhaps we could learn a lesson from 1914 and see that the "others" are really just the same as us - they've just had a different lens upon which they have seen and viewed the world.