Happy Holidays mi gente,
Leave it to the Christian right and people in general to fuck up a good thing… There are two parts to today’s post. One illustrates how conservatives use religion to foster fear with the intent to force compliance, the other illustrates how spirituality can be a powerful force, even in the midst of unbelievable violence and insanity.
The Fake War on Christmas
What we preserve in the larger human story determines what we believe is possible in the world.
The fake war on Christmas is not really about Christmas, but rather it is in reality code for religious intolerance, anti-Semitism, and bigotry. It’s the dog whistle to rile up the rabble.
From what I can tell, at the message at the core of the historical Jesus is a powerful and sublime philosophy: that we love one another, and that we should treat one another with respect and as we would like to be treated. Of course, Christmas really isn’t about that at all. Shit, if there is a war on Christmas, it was won long ago by a consumer culture grounded in the mindset of mindlessly acquiring material possessions rather than self-actualization or compassion for one’s neighbor.
And that’s the tragedy here because this vital message of love is lost. And if you doubt the power of the true message of this spiritual teaching, then check out the following story…
The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce of 1914
On Christmas Eve in 1914, two lines of homesick soldiers, one British, one German, were dug into the trenches on the Western Front in the middle of World War I. Now, you have to understand that WWI was considered the “war to end all wars.” It was one of the most vicious wars because in those days, you had to look your enemy in the eye as you stabbed or shot him. You were more likely to die from starvation, exposure, and disease as you were at the hands of the enemy. So, there are these two front lines and between them was a fire zone called no-man’s land. On a moonlit, snowy night in this God-forsaken landscape, the Germans lifted army issued Christmas trees sparkling with tiny candles over the edge of their trenches and set them in plain sight.
The British shouted and cheered with delight. The Germans began to sing “Stille Nacht… ”and the British began to sing along with “Silent Night.” This encouraged the Germans and they set down their guns in the moonlight and heaved themselves from their trenches carrying candles, cake, and cigars toward their enemies. The British responded in kind, carrying steamed pudding and cigarettes.
These men met in the middle of the forbidden zone, exchanged gifts, sang carols, and played soccer. This seemingly spontaneous truce eventually extended for hundreds of miles among thousands of soldiers. The really funny thing was, having seen each other’s humanity, they could no longer shoot each other…
The war essentially stopped.
Horrified, commanders on both sides had to transfer thousands of men to new positions until the enemy became faceless again, something killable, not a human being — not a brother.
Almost a hundred years later, scholars are still studying this event, reading soldier’s journals and letters that refer to it, seeking to understand “the breakdown of the military mindset,” or attempting to understand how a fuckin spontaneous peace movement could spread even in the cold dark heart of war.
Today you will hear countless other stories. Stories of death and unspeakable cruelty. You will no doubt hear stories justifying, in the name of global economics or religion, the starvation and killing of innocent men, women, and children. You will see or read approximately 80,000 messages today bombarding you with the agenda to get you to buy something — most of it will fly under the radar of your awareness. But if you remember anything, remember this story because it is true and it speaks to who we really are and the essence of what it means to be a human being.
Most of all, remember the contrasts between the two parts of this post today. The first part emphasizes difference and domination, the second part reinforces what is good in all of us, regardless of what or who we believe in or where we find ourselves.
My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…