On the EDge: We could sure use a Christmas miracle

Composite image, St. George News

OPINION — The winter of 1914 had just arrived as a nascent war began to focus on what would become 400 miles of misery, death and destruction along the Western Front that snaked through France and Belgium from the Swiss border to the North Sea.

World War I was barely five months old, the killing fresh and escalating at a hellish pace that would eventually claim 9 million combatants and 7 million civilians.

The Western Front would become the major theater in, what was hoped, would be the war to end all wars.

Trenches were carved along this 400-mile stretch of blood and misery. Poison gas tore at the lungs of young men on the battlefield, massive aerial attacks cratered the land and tanks rumbled in a faceoff along a demarcation line of no retreat for the foot soldiers from both sides who were bombarded with ceaseless artillery fire.

But, on this field of inhumanity the cannons were temporarily silenced, the arms placed quietly on the ground and peace reigned, if only for a moment, when the troops took it upon themselves to stop the fighting to celebrate Christmas.

On Dec. 7, 1914, Pope Benedict XV asked for a temporary ceasefire, which was rejected by the leaders of the warring nations.

However, on Christmas Eve, the soldiers spontaneously laid down their arms to honor the day.

They sang Christmas carols.

They crossed the no-man’s land to exchange food and Christmas greetings.

They had friendly soccer matches on the bloody killing fields.

And, for a brief moment in one of mankind’s darkest times, they found a peace – if only temporary – that comes from somewhere deep within.

It was an act of chivalry, decency, humanity and courage.

The moment passed, of course, and these same troops eventually picked up their arms and set about the business of killing each other, often in the bloodiest, most horrific manner possible, for the glory of delusional leaders upholding a false sense of honor and fed by their own gluttony and greed.

Nothing comparable has occurred since, not during World War II, not in Korea, not in Vietnam, nor in the Middle East or any other place where soldiers venture into harm’s way.

It was a courageous act of humanity and peace because military codes forbid such voluntary laying down of arms – whether for Christmas or any other season or reason not ordered by the government – so any soldiers who would participate in such behavior these days would be court-martialed and suffer severe punishment, even if it happened to be the right thing to do, the moral thing to do, the humane thing to do.

We would do well to learn from those soldiers who, in the throes of war, found a way to maintain their dignity, compassion and respect regardless of the consequences of military jurisprudence.

Leadership is a tenuous thing, even in the best of circumstances, and it is often rooted in the emotional fervor of the day, subject to false fears and a sense of irrational jingoism.

Leadership is also, for the most part, a top-down governance that fails to take into consideration the good or need in all, serving only a select few.

And, peace?

Peace has become a lost commodity, even on the battlefield that has become our day-to-day existence.

We torture ourselves with an anger that flows more freely by the moment, hating, fearing, rising up against perceived faults and enemies because we are told to do so and not for legitimate purpose.

We turn against each other, although we share more than that which separates us.

There is no peace, no kindness, no humanity in what we have become, the divisiveness that is not part of the honest process of differences that fuel our growth and shape our destiny.

There are soldiers among us, I pray, willing to lay down their arms, fully recognizing that we need those honest differences to chart our course, that we can acknowledge them instead of unleashing the toxic poisons of hate and anger.

We need those soldiers willing to understand that the world does not revolve around them, that it is better to respect than to resent. We need those soldiers who honor dignity rather than deride something or somebody they just do not understand. We need those soldiers who understand that an acerbic tongue can be as damaging as a bullet.

Christmas is a time of joy, celebration, peace and love and I hope yours is better than you deserve.

But, if ever we could use a Christmas miracle, now is the time.

No bad days!

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: edkociela.mx@gmail.com

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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38 Comments

  • NickDanger December 25, 2018 at 3:46 pm

    Merry Christmas, Ed. Sounds like you’re regretting being a known liberal instigator of divisiveness. For one day.

  • darkside December 25, 2018 at 3:56 pm

    There is truth in this piece and yet it seems to be worded as though it is up to someone else to step up and lay down their arms. How about you lead by example Ed? Almost every piece I read from you is based in negativity or self righteousness that speaks down to those of a conservative or religious view. Maybe you should publicly offer up your arms of contempt for those who differ in views than you and be that soldier you are praying for. We can’t ask others to change if we aren’t willing to change ourselves first. Wishing you no bad days!

  • LunchboxHero December 25, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    “There is no peace, no kindness, no humanity in what we have become…” Gee, you sound like a barrel of laughs, Ed. Do you shake your fist and scream at kids to get off your lawn?

  • bikeandfish December 25, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    I think there is definitely behavior and characteristics to admire from such historic moments. We can always learn from them.

    I think we are all also aware of how divisive our times are, even if its not all that historically unique. At the same time I think much of that divisiveness matters and won’t be solved by a metaphorical “laying down of arms.”. Nor does such divisiveness result from anger or hate. I think our country is going through an awkward growth period and the outcome is highly uncertain. And in reality the types of changes and issues we are going through aren’t often solved with compromise and conceding differences. Sometimes the differences are so stark that tension and conflict are inevitable. Especially when it comes down to core values.

    I don’t wish ill will on anyone or hate anyone myself. That is a waste of my time and energy. On the other hand, it is possible to passionately disagree with and even despise certain ideas, behaviors and policies yet remain neutral towards the people exhibiting them. And I think many Americans are at that point.

    The only “miracle” that is going to happen, from my limited experience, sadly is a disaster of some sort bigger than our current divide. I think we are just dealing with such deep seeded core issues that aren’t going to be resolved smoothly. Which is where I agree with Hyde. At moments like this often the principle or only peace and harmony one will find is at home or with your personal community.

  • Redbud December 25, 2018 at 6:58 pm

    The miracle that I pray for is the border wall, and with Trump at the helm, I have faith that everything will be just fine.

  • commonsense December 25, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    The “Christmas miracle “ you elude to occurred in the election of 2016 when America realized the dreadful path of global socialism that we were on as a nation required a unique leadership style to break the Deep State, someone who was not part of Washington politics and had no financial self -interest. That prayer was answered, not by a perfect man, but by a man uniquely qualified and a man who saw American as a beacon of hope and still perseveres at great personal sacrifice to make America great again.

    • iceplant December 26, 2018 at 6:24 am

      Pure propaganda.

      • KR567 January 1, 2019 at 11:20 pm

        Just like anything you post

    • Lee Saunders December 26, 2018 at 11:17 am

      “No financial self interest”? You’ve got to be joking. In the final analysis, basically all this man is about is financial self interest and self aggrandization. Wait until we see the Mueller report.

      • Lee Saunders December 26, 2018 at 11:23 am

        If I’m wrong, I’ll eat my words on this forum.

        • Comment December 26, 2018 at 2:29 pm

          Cult of personality similar to followers of Stalin and Hitler, etc. Humans haven’t changed at all since those times, so folks like ‘commonsense’ are susceptible to it. To them, trump can actually do no wrong.

          • bikeandfish December 26, 2018 at 4:30 pm

            This sort of “presidentalism” is inherently dangerous. Its places fielty with the person rather than ideals and values. The leader can do no wrong.

            Sadly, its common on both sides. Look at the hero worship of Obama. I mean they gave the guy a Nobel Peace Prize early in his tenure despite becoming an unabashed war president and someone who escalated drone strikes. Or look at how people are now building a myth about Beto O’Rourke.

          • Comment December 26, 2018 at 11:15 pm

            Nothing is as it seems, bike. Obongo was likely just a puppet on a string to the puppet master oligarchs who actually run this country (perhaps similar to a certain Baby Bush Jr). Look how helpless the man became without his teleprompter. Without his handlers he’d have been helpless as a lost lamb. So Obummer was a tool and Nobel Prizes have just become agenda-driven globalist propaganda.

          • Comment December 26, 2018 at 11:17 pm

            Beto O’Rourke can be the new head clown of the Dem clown circus. Bunch of traitors.

      • bikeandfish December 26, 2018 at 1:36 pm

        Yeah, I’ve never understood how people claim he is not self-interested with any sense of seriousness. Even the representatives of his businesses claim they are doing just fine. The data highlights his brand has experienced a decrease in growth but that is only one indicator of financial success.

        Time will tell but my guess/prediction is his business empire benefits in the long run. But its all educated guessing at this point.

  • iceplant December 25, 2018 at 10:21 pm

    Reading through most of these comments there is no doubt in my mind that we are headed to an ugly place in this country. And it all starts at the top. There will be no unity in America as long as we have divisive liars and their uneducated ilk running the show.

    • NickDanger December 26, 2018 at 6:35 am

      We’re already in an ugly place, iceplant. But unlike some other conservatives, I’m not interested in compromising with liberals. Because it is, indeed, liberals who are the problem. Liberals like Ed Kociela for example.

      Don’t agree? Of course you don’t, because you have no frame of reference for liberal agitators. To you, they are just expressing their political beliefs. But to those of us who understand that the USA already IS a conservative country, and that very conservatism is the source of our now-expired unity and strength, well – we realize that liberals are the ones stirring up the pot.

      The liberal platform is simple: they want everyone to support the dregs of society in their degenerate activities. And they want the working people of the USA to financially support the non-workers. Simple.

      But that’s not how America works. That’s not what made America great. Liberals are like crying children, demanding something for nothing. They’ve hijacked the all-too-willing-to-publish-anything-that-gets-attention media to make their baseless and naive arguments sound like wisdom.

      The USA is a conservative nation with conservative policies. It’s liberals who are agitating for change and creating divides, with people like Ed turning it around to make it seem as if poor, non-offensive liberals are the victims of brutal conservatives who won’t respect their right to do anything they want, anytime they want, on the taxpayer’s dollar.

      • iceplant December 26, 2018 at 8:16 am

        THEM DAMN LIBRULZ!!! THEY’S A KILLIN’ MY ‘MERICA!!!
        What is it with you people and your propaganda?
        Your entire diatribe sounds as if it were literally ripped from Hannity or Limbaugh. Regardless, everything you said is merely an opinion with a little sprinkled-in drama. Holy crap.

        America is hardly a “conservative nation with conservative policies” and you can’t prove that it is. Take your fake outrage somewhere else.

        • NickDanger December 26, 2018 at 3:02 pm

          I don’t watch television so I’ll just have to take your word that I sound like a television. But there are no opinions happening here, and honestly, other than to make you feel stupid, I can’t think of any valid reason for me to spend much time providing evidence that the USA is a traditionally conservative nation. Up until the 1950’s in this country, you’d be hard-pressed to find a woman wearing anything besides an ankle-length dress, and before FDR’s New Deal there was no welfare state. Men were men and women were homemakers – it was a lifestyle worth striving for, worth fighting for, and so we became the most powerful nation in the history of the planet based on simple, conservative lifestyles feeding a highly-motivated war machine with no reason to believe they weren’t “the good guys.”

          So yeah, iceplant, much to your surprise, you’re the actual drama queen, one who apparently knows nothing about any history pre-dating the interweb. And just like all liberals, your only argument is mockery of the traditional values you so easily disparage, never realizing that the only reason you’re allowed to sit there spouting contrarian liberal balderdash is that your forefathers had a hell of a lot more common sense than you do.

          Your mockery of the American way of life might bend a few ears in California, or some other bankrupt dystopia populated by freaks. But it doesn’t fly in the quiet places where most of America actually lives.

          • bikeandfish December 26, 2018 at 4:24 pm

            You never support your extremist, ahistorical claims. At some point it shows either an intellectual laziness or more likely a self-awareness that your ideas aren’t justifiable.

            But lets take one at face value and assume you mean and believe what you say:

            “Up until the 1950s in this country, you’d be hard-pressed to find a woman wearing anything besides an ankle-length dress”

            Another fairytale. I assume you either never studied the 20s or are trying to cherrypick history. Historic photos documenting “flappers” and other Jazz era styles show above the ankle dresses, and GASP above the knee dresses, were common enough, at least for those who could afford it. You built an entire argument on this fallacious claim. I’ll even do a quick fashion search for you:

            http://www.fashion-era.com/1920s/1920s_photos_flapper_dress.htm

            Its great that you chose that issue to rally on. Policing sex/sexuality/gender is a definitive component of fascist and authoritarian tactics/policy. Your rant below exemplifies that strategy:

            “Men were men and women were homemakers – it was a lifestyle worth striving for”

            You use that to build a nationalistic argument about war and strength:

            “it was a lifestyle worth striving for, worth fighting for, and so we became the most powerful nation in the history of the planet based on simple, conservative lifestyles feeding a highly-motivated war machine with no reason to believe they weren’t “the good guys.”

            You just volunteered all of the classic elements of fascist tactics in one paragraph: “a mythic past” simplified through propaganda and mistruths, creating sexual anxiety (contrasted by the myth of a sexually pure history), anti-intellectualism (“I can’t think of any valid reason for me to spend much time providing evidence”), and a victimhood of “true” patriots/Americans. Just to name a few details.

            At the end of the day what you are advocating is fundamentally inconsistent with our nation’s foundational concepts of liberalism. You are arguing against liberty and for an authoritarian doctrine our founder’s wisely protected us against. Your version of Americanism is fascists to its core.

          • iceplant December 27, 2018 at 5:44 am

            Fascism. You want fascism. And you have the audacity to claim I make a mockery of the American way of life.
            Keep living in your delusional fantasy world while you follow your so-called “leaders” to your grave.

        • KR567 December 26, 2018 at 6:05 pm

          Typical response from a troll

      • Redbud December 26, 2018 at 9:32 am

        NickDanger, I couldn’t have said it better myself. I refuse to slug along and make myself miserable along with the liberals. Iceplant complains there is no unity, and he’s got that right! He falsely assumes Trump is to blame, but it’s him and the rest of the liberals who are hell bent on destroying our great nation. Trump 2020!

      • bikeandfish December 26, 2018 at 9:39 am

        Nick,

        Thats is classic fascist mythologizing. Our nation never had a clear political unity, nonetheless a cultural one. We’ve always gone through oscillations between unity and division regarding major themes and issues.

        But at moments like this those with power, or those who want it, simplify our history into something it never was. They want us to be nostalgic for a time that never was. And you in particular hit all of the notes of such fascist story telling, from ultra-rightwing politics to ethno-nationalist scapegoating.

        Your lies and myths are obvious and desperate.

        • Redbud December 26, 2018 at 10:29 am

          Bikeandfish, you added nothing to the conversation, and you desperately attempted (and failed) at turning NickDanger’s comments into something their not. You’re only upset because he spoke the truth. You are guilty as ever of telling lies, and spreading false information. You could get a job at CNN spreading fake news.

          • bikeandfish December 26, 2018 at 11:17 am

            What have I said that was false, do tell?

            There are times to “add to the conversation” and there are times to explicitly name the mendacity and nefarious ideologies for what they are. NickDanger constantly lies and mythologizes an America that never existed. He doesn’t even try to disguise his white supremacist ideas and regressive expectations of anyone that is not a straight, white male. I’ve been interacting with his ideas for 18+ months and the trend is more obvious than ever.

            I have no problem with personal ideals, conservative or liberal. In fact, I dare say our country (especially at the federal level) benefits from the interplay of both . But when people try to claim some historic certainty that we have always been and will always be only _______ (fill in the blank with prefered politics) and that _______ (fill in with the opposite politics) are our enemy than we have diverted into the realm of verifiable history. Our country has never been politically unified in the way NickDanger (and you?) whitewash. Our tension and plurality is self-evident from our founding as historic record exemplifies.

            And I find it absolutely hilarious that you charge anyone with failing to add to the dialogue. You’ve spent the last few weeks rattling off sycophantic campaign rhetoric with zero substance or critical thinking. When you stop with your “dear leader” announcements and make a thoughtful comment with substance than I’ll reconsider your stance.

          • bikeandfish December 26, 2018 at 11:56 am

            And I’ll summarize an important point for you, Redbud. You are not my enemy. We hold disparate worldviews but they can and do coexist in a pluralist country. They coexist everyday and at every level of interaction. I respect individuals who prefer living a conservative lifestyle as much as I respect individuals who live a liberal lifestyle. I wouldn’t live in SW Utah if I couldn’t do that.

            On the other hand, I can passionately and actively differentiate between living a personal preference (ie what liberty protects) and using power to limit another’s individual liberty, ie enforce my values on another. That has been a historical tension in our country. Individuals like NickDanger posit a country in which our past was a fairytale of unity, certainty, and a prosperity directly linked to his narrow ideology. Maybe you haven’t read his past comments, I have extensively. He deals in racism and sexism, also hallmarks of fascist mythologizing. I would recommend you reconsider your sudden ideological alliance with him unless you openly value politics that deny entire groups of people agency, equality and liberty. I assume you don’t value the same things he does but I could be wrong (continuing to rally behind him after this clarification would be an indication you agree with him in those arenas).

            You’ll find lashing out at me about “fake news” and “CNN” won’t get you anywhere. You’ll find I have no problem backing up my claims with sources and citations, something only a few people do here. NickDanger is the only likely “enemy” I truly have here and even then its because of his passionate display of ahistorical lies and prejudice; other’s may see me as their enemy but I don’t share that sentiment even when I call out their public statements. You’ll also find projecting some type of emotional response holds no truth for me. I’ll walk away from these comments with no animus or emotional response whatsoever. I hope others are able to do the same.

          • iceplant December 26, 2018 at 11:57 am

            And you added nothing to the conversation as well. Other than MORE lies and fascist propaganda.
            And, for crying out loud, learn the difference between their and they’re, comrade Redski.

        • Lee Saunders December 26, 2018 at 11:29 am

          Practically, you might as well save the effort, B&F. These bobbleheads are so brainwashed into their alt-right opinions that no words of reason or rationality will have an impact. Thanks, anyway, for being one voice of reason. You’re quite articulate and I thank you for your input.

      • bikeandfish December 26, 2018 at 1:32 pm

        One point of unintended irony on Nick’s part:

        “that very conservatism is the source of our now-expired unity and strength”

        I’ll let that grammatical error speak for itself ?

        • NickDanger December 26, 2018 at 3:06 pm

          Sorry Bike, I don’t see the grammatical error, only the usual errors in your reasoning.

          • bikeandfish December 26, 2018 at 3:44 pm

            You have never shown an error in my reasoning.

            You might want to relearn sentence structure of you don’t understand your sentence says the opposite of what you intended. As of right now, your sentence states conservatism is causing our loss of unity and strength. ??

          • iceplant December 27, 2018 at 5:36 am

            D’oh!

  • Redbud December 27, 2018 at 12:49 am

    Iceplant, I know the difference between they’re and their. I realized the mistake right after I posted it, but didn’t feel the need to start a whole new post to correct it since editing is not allowed. By the way “Other than MORE lies and fascist propaganda.” is a sentence fragment, and therefore an incomplete sentence. Merry Trumpmas!

    • iceplant December 27, 2018 at 5:39 am

      That just happened to be the one time I called you out. You’ve done it before.
      And you are the last person who should be correcting my sentences. LOL @ wannabe grammar cop over here. 😛

      • Redbud December 27, 2018 at 8:24 am

        I’d rather have a few typos than spread lies and make false statements about things you wish you were an expert on. You are no grammar cop either so get off your high horse. Maybe you should go back and read some of your own posts.

        • iceplant December 27, 2018 at 5:14 pm

          You keep telling yourself they’re typos. At least I have a firm grasp of the English language.

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