December 24, 1914. It’s a very muddy winter evening near Ypres Salient, a small, yet hugely impactful area in Belgium. The Great War rages on, and it’s being waged in one of the bloodiest parts of the Western Front. On this very night, it’s eerily quiet. British and French soldiers standing watch at their posts are baffled by what they see. A German hand comes out over the top of the trench on the other side of “no man’s land,” and looks toward his mortal enemies. Is that a..? Is that a Christmas tree? Indeed it was.
The sight of a dainty little tree lit by primitive wax candles is baffling. But, the sounds of Christmas Carols ringing out across the battlefield is uncanny to the battered, discontented Allied battalion. Some of the German soldiers, before the war, had worked in British factories. In broken English, the calls of a cease fire were yelled out from the German trenches. A few brave, trusting souls emerge from their muddy encampments, only to be fired upon.
Eventually, the news of the events are spread throughout the surrounding miles of the Western Front. Primitive signs begin to come into view. Most reading “You no fire, we no fire.” What happens next is truly amazing. A few at a time, the weary soldiers climb out of the muddy trenches to meet in the space between, or “No Man’s Land.”
A truce is established, hands are shaken, pleasantries exchanged, gifts are given, even some games (like soccer) are being played between mortal enemies. The rest is history.
What happened on this ground can only be described as a miracle — humanity in the midst of brutality. The soldiers know only one thing: “that is my enemy, and the world would be better if he didn’t exist. I exist to make him not exist.”
It sounds radical to some, but parallels can be drawn from this described event, to today’s political climate. They (liberals/conservatives) are my enemy, and the world would be better if they didn’t exist. To dwell in the middle is to face certain death. But, what can be said about a truce? A cease fire?
The first step is recognition. It’s recognizing the humanity in the other side. It’s finding common ground that both sides can agree on. It’s recognizing the problem with hurling the hot lead of character attacks (racist / snowflake) at one another, and realizing the damage that it is causing. It’s being the first brave soul that steps out of their deeply dug trench, and walks out into the middle. That’s the first step.
The Great War raged on, and the destruction it left is still being rebuilt today. Some of it will never be rebuilt. However … the events of December 24, 1914, in a large muddy field, in the middle of a small war torn country will live on. Humanity lives on, and it takes a courageous step to carry on the spirit of that day.