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February 25, 2020

12/24/2019 9:45:00 AM
We could do it too

Dear Editor:
Last weekend I attended a performance of "All is Calm" about the 1914 Christmas truce between British and German foot soldiers during World War I. It's a true and profoundly beautiful story about enemies who are enemies only because their governments say they are, not because, as human beings, they actually hate each other. It's a story about disobeying military orders by going on strike and refusing to participate in the war, telling the sergeant-major who had ordered them silent to "shut up, because it's Christmas time". It's about soldiers on both sides of a conflict wanting to, for a few hours, step across a huge political divide to embrace their common humanity.
It was one of the most uplifting, and one of the saddest, stories I've ever heard. I came away thinking those brave soldiers obviously had a very much more meaningful Christmas, even in wartime, that the average citizen in this country will have this year, while living in the ugliest, most divisive, vitriolic and verbally violent political environment in any of our lifetimes.
I cannot imagine how our country can ever set aside our political differences, even for a few hours, when our current president can't model this behavior or lead by example. He can't even find it in his heart to congratulate 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg when Time Magazine chose her, instead of him, as Person of the Year. Instead, our 73-year-old male president, whose press secretary calls his detractors "human scum", bullied this courageous 16-year-old girl who epitomizes good world citizenship and clearly deserves this honor.
What would happen, I wonder, if we as ordinary citizens, told our leader to "shut-up," went on strike and refused to follow him into muddy trenches of ego-driven, bloodsport political warfare? What would happen if we really, truly wanted a more just and civilized world enough to step up and BE the change we want to occur?
It wouldn't be easy, but if British and German soldiers in WW I could do it, for just a few hours, we can follow their example and do it, too - maybe for even longer.
Paula Dáil
Spring Green

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