Christmas is a special period in many cultures, it’s one of festive spirits, family and giving. A time to give thanks and for those who believe, to celebrate the birth of Christ, the Prince of Peace. The notion of peace is held up high in most societies, the reprieve from violence and suffering. A time where even adversaries can look past their grievances and find a moment of compassion, where humanity may prevail over hate and policy. There are few moments in history when the season of peace prevailed over the seasons of war, those that occurred we know and romance with teary eyes and warm hearts. Though even among Christian nations those incidents were rare.
There is nothing romantic about war, it is the most horrible act of human endeavours though it’s dear to many societies. It’s the very bedrock by which they may be built, myths and martyrs are born from wars of the past which then help to fuel those of today and in the future. The appeal of war for the distant and naive is a contrast to the experiences of those who must suffer it and the weary who have to fight. Perhaps if we can romance and embrace peace more than we accept war, then that Christmas spirit may unwrap itself for all humanity.
For all of the wisdom and claimed reason that humanity prides itself on, the hubris and reckless nature that it has for collective violence is absurd and cruel. War allows otherwise kind and generous people to switch into coldhearted killers, indifferent to their enemy and others who suffer. The innocent become either abstract props to protect while also sacrificial statistics weighed up against the objectives devised by war masters. But they are human beings, living and feeling just as the enemy is for that matter.
The term enemy is rarely used for just combatants but any male of a specified populace, their families, including babies. The enemy is not a man who personally is responsible for any direct wrong, they are ‘them’, all and every single one associated with the term. This then allows for the cruelty of modern technology blended with ancient energy to hate and kill. It’s so we are told, war. Even if none was declared.
Then in the period of festive peace, token or even sincere gestures may be sent about with messages of kindness in the spirit of Christmas. We give thanks and those who can celebrate family and love. For many it’s a time to come together, at least so goes the propaganda. It can also be a lonely season or for the working, busy and isolating. Those in the frontiers of empire, it may be distant and sad and for any who suffer beneath the weight of foreign policy, another day in the hell manufactured by professional human beings doing their job. To come home from the war, free of homesickness and fear or to have a home that is not battered by killers. Peace would be a gift, a blessing.
For those who celebrate, however it is done for you wherever you may be, praise and give thanks however you feel but know that across the globe many suffer because of deeds done in your name. Peace and the spirit of kindness should not be limited to that short period of time in the years end, it can be all year round. Those who believe in a deity and those who do not can come together with respect and friendship and the foreign though they may not live next door, on this planet they are still your neighbour. As individuals most of us want to befriend and greet with the best intentions, trade and conversation is an instinct. Fear and hate ensures that those who want to take and do harm
have captured the moral conscience of society, in most hearts the will to do good and smile prevails over the clenched fist.
For the believers perhaps it’s time to put God before the State. The atheists maybe look at the things about religion that you dislike and contrast it to the non-theological rituals and beliefs put into government. No institution or symbol should be so sacred to destroy a child or a populace of children, yet we bear witness to this often. The blockades and bombings conducted to punish a pariah regime rarely harm the elites but always hurt the innocent. While you celebrate the holiday season consider that war, despite those few exceptions mythologised does not sleep, it marches relentlessly. The tragedy is that it can be stopped by the very ones waging it.
War is not an act of nature, it does not simply occur beyond human controls. It takes many individuals co-operating to make it possible. It requires belief, will and obedience to states and ideology to wage it. It‘ s the one true religion of humanity. The belief that profit and benevolence can be had by killing and forcing others, that some nations or peoples are above others or that it’s righteous to wage war or threaten it to satisfy needs and wants. The same belief and desire to make friends, love and embrace one another, especially in the festive season can be extended to end the wars. To stand up and say “No More War!”
So maybe this Christmas when you ask Santa for a present, look beyond the material and into the distance and ask for peace. It would take a true Christmas miracle indeed. Though it is the season for such things. The miracle likely exists in all of us, the selfish, spiteful and angry impulses that can constrict our perspective may also be the very flaws as a collective that remove compassion and empathy in moments when they are needed. War is not possible without those willing to fight and support it. If the will for peace is greater than that of war or overcomes the cynicism of obedience, then maybe love of humanity can be shared. I put down my cross and faith in Christ a long time ago, though inside still lingers an optimism, not in a deity but humanity itself. So Merry Christmas and peace to you all.