At this time of year, it’s particularly fitting for most to talk about the virtue of peace. After all, we are supposed to find within ourselves goodwill to all men throughout this season, in order to create peace on earth.
One of the most poignant tales of peace is the story of the Christmas truce. If you’re not familiar with the story, you should definitely review the page in depth. December 24, 1941 was the thick of World War I. But 100,000 or so British and German troops on the Western Front thought it might be more important to honor the spirit of the season through a cessation of hostilities. “The Germans began by placing candles on their trenches and on Christmas trees, then continued the celebration by singing Christmas carols. The British responded by singing carols of their own. The two sides continued by shouting Christmas greetings to each other. Soon thereafter, there were excursions across the ‘No Man’s Land’, where small gifts were exchanged, such as food, tobacco and alcohol, and souvenirs such as buttons and hats. The artillery in the region fell silent that night. The truce also allowed a breathing spell where recently-fallen soldiers could be brought back behind their lines by burial parties. Joint services were held. The fraternisation was not, however, without its risks; some soldiers were shot by opposing forces. In many sectors, the truce lasted through Christmas night, but it continued until New Year’s Day in others.”
If these men could find peace within themselves during such troubled times, can’t we find it today? Baruch Spinoza wants you to know “peace is not mere absence of war, but is a virtue that springs from a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, and justice.” Find ways to bring peace to your life. Here are some places to begin, if you can’t come up with any on your own.
It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.