My (late) Christmas wish


Christmas is my albatross, at least, this year. My cards all went out on the 26th. One gift remains ungiven (and unshopped and unpaid for). And I’ve been fighting off a Christmas cold that started around Hanukkah and should be over by the tail end of Kwanzaa.

It’s been Noel hell.

So it’s only fitting that my Christmas wish bursts forth four days after the blessed event. Well, there’s room at the inn now, so onward to the shining star.

I think a lot about peace on Earth, not the seasonal kind that manifests itself in quiet streets and closed stores and businesses. The real kind of peace, the one that allows tribes and nations and races to co-exist without bloody vengeance or centuries of warfare.

I wonder if it’s possible. I wonder if it’s desirable even.

Why put interpersonal conflict aside when I can’t even get the damn postman to put my mail in the mailbox? Or the waiter to refill my drink someday? Or a colleague to get with the program?

No, war is a very real possibility, even if only a limited skirmish between me and another within the vicinity of my puny fist.

I could probably even throw down with a friend or two, because I’m that ornery.

No, I couldn’t possibly give peace a chance, not when there’s fighting to be done. World peace isn’t likely the kind of thing that stays intact if magically foisted upon 6 billion people. Today, détente. Tomorrow, grudging détente. The next day, mild irritation.

And in six months, tempers flare, guns appear and shooting begins.

Such may be the fate of humanity.

Perhaps we’re moving in the right direction. Clearly, we have the means to kill on a wider scale, and with the glaring exception of the United States, many nations have shown considerable restraint in using those actual weapons of mass destruction.

Terrorists are ready to wipe out large populations, if given enough time. But I firmly believe that by correcting basic societal deficiencies — education, jobs, food supply — we can win them over eventually.

What’s our excuse? We’re a fat happy nation with too much firepower on our hands. We’re not safer than before; we’ve created the situation we’ve feared most, handing terrorists more incentive to recruit younger operatives in the fight against America.

Land mines, chemical weapons, shoe bombs, IEDs, RPGs, plastic explosives, mortars, anti-aircraft missiles, smart bombs … the world’s population has become quite adept at murder. As the weapons become more sophisticated, can we?

As Americans, we must work towards that peace we claim we desire. We stop bullying other nations, stop locking up thousands without cause, stop torturing human beings. That doesn’t mean we lie down for anyone — we must do the intelligence work and follow through in rounding up the real criminals.

The work for peace begins anew each day. It may take lifetimes, but our alternative is far less appealing: shorter lifetimes filled with unending brutality.

My Christmas wish is not for world peace, just the sustainment of working for it, not against it.

Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. But tolerance and co-existence deserves a fighting chance.


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