Disclaimer: Letters to the Editor express the opinion of the writer and are not necessarily the opinion of WBIG ownership, management or staff.
Recently, I read the story of the Christmas Truce again. I encourage you to read the story, but in short, in 1914 English and German soldiers laid down their arms, crossed the no-man’s land of WWI trench warfare, and celebrated Christmas together. Their leaders were horrified, that men would question whether they were really enemies, and why they were killing each other, and took extreme measures to restore a state of war.
This led me to think about politics in America today. What our nation’s founders called “the spirit of faction” has divided our people, and paralyzed our political institutions. Divisive rhetoric is used to gain temporary partisan advantage, with little thought given to the long term consequences for our civil institutions. Likewise, moderates and idealists, factions in their own right, too often resort to slandering each other.
Meanwhile, the evidence of decline is everywhere. Polls show that trust in our poltical leaders is almost nonexistent. Millions of Americans have dropped out of the political process altogether. Populist movements have arisen on all sides, and protests are increasingly common. As long as standards of living continue to decline, civil unrest will remain the elephant in the room. Corruption is evident in many places, and legitimate questions about the integrity of the election process remain unanswered. History is replete with similarities that we would do well to carefully consider.
Yet each day brings us a new chance to make things right. The stale, stock propaganda – the old stories – ring hollow, because we can now tell each other our own stories. Every day on the internet we share these stories with each other. In the process, we show each other that we are not so different after all. We have the same dreams, the same needs and desires, the same happiness and sadness, joy and sorrow, hope and despair. We care about our neighbors, by and large, and want a society in which together we can prosper. We’re willing to work if we think the system is fair. We want our children to grow up in a world worth living in.
We are at a crossroads. The politics of divide and conquer are being challenged on all fronts. We can continue to pursue partisan advantage, while our country declines around us. Or we can begin to celebrate the things we have in common as human beings. As Americans, we have in common a unique inheritance – the greatest and most ambitious experiment in government the world has ever seen. We have made great progress, and I am far from convinced that our best days lie in the past.
I call upon all Americans to take a stand. We neither need to, nor should, stop advocating for people and causes we believe in. What we must do is change our tactics, and recognize that those who understand the need for unity, in other factions, rank higher as allies than those in our own factions who do not understand. If you feel stronger facing the future in brotherhood rather than enmity – if you believe America should enjoy the fruits of peace, rather than the spoils of war – if, like me, you love the people of this country so much, that sometimes it feels as if your heart is about to split your chest – you will come together to resist those who care only about themselves, or their partial society – their party – their faction. Cease fire!
Chris Edes, Rochester, NY