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In the Trenches

As I contemplate the state of our world, I am transported into a scene recounted in a piece of music entitled Christmas In The Trenches written by J. McCutcheon and performed by a Canadian artist, John McDermott. It tells the true story of an event that took place in the fifth month of WWI, the war promoted as the “war to end all wars:”

It is Christmas Eve and blood spatters both sides of the frozen ground

on a French battlefield. The guns are silent for a few moments and a German voice rings out a Christmas song. The British, dug in the trenches, acknowledge the beauty of the voice and gesture, and return an English carol. Suddenly, the sentries warn of the approach of an “enemy.”

Rifles ready to fire, the tense soldiers see he carries a truce flag, goodwill and gifts. Soon, both armies are exchanging gifts, pictures and stories of home. They play a game of football and for a moment forget the reality they have been taught to believe, that they are “different,” they are “enemies.” The song proclaims the discovery that on “each end of the rifle they are the same;” and yet they go back to the “business” of war, each wondering who’s family they have in their sites.

I wonder to myself, Why didn’t they put down their rifles, proclaim a peace and go back to their homes instead of acting like automatons and go back to killing each other? They could have acted on their new found knowledge and the experience that they were friends, not enemies.

Does a flood of thoughts surface in your mind and say: “But what about . . . the Generals . . . countries at war . . . court martials . . .we have to protect ourselves from these ‘enemies’ . . . how could they just walk away?” How? They could declare peace and just walk away!! Could the above reasoning be the line of thinking that prevents us from putting down our weapons and declaring peace in all of our relationships? What needs to change to make healing possible?

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