Tuesday was election day, but it was also my husband’s birthday. Rather than watching election returns roll in, we celebrated his birthday by going to the opera. It was only my second one, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one (unlike the first).
The story is what drew us.
The show, Silent Night, is based on the Christmas Truce, a series of spontaneous cease-fires along the Western front in World War I during Christmas 1914.
In Silent Night, the truce starts after a German opera singer puts himself in harm’s way to sing Christmas carols to all who can hear him. Surprisingly, enemy soldiers join in. After that, the men in three armies—German, English (Scottish), and French—lay aside their weapons. Cautiously venturing into no-man’s land, they begin to exchange cigars, whiskey, champagne, and chocolate. They share photos of the women they love, gather for a worship service by one of their chaplains, and bury their dead.
These men miss their wives and children, girlfriends, mothers. Their homes. They’re exhausted and afraid. But for a brief moment in time, they see—and we in the audience saw—that they share more in common than perhaps they thought.
They put aside their arms in order to be the men, the human beings that they were. They realize “the enemy” was human too, and for the time of the cease-fire, they become comrades, if not friends.
What if we did this, too? What if in this very divisive time of our nation’s history, we laid aside our weapons—chiefly, our words—and stopped the name-calling, the labeling, and the judging? What if we started thinking of “the enemy” as people who also love their families, also have dreams for the future, also enjoy a good piece of chocolate, glass of whiskey or some other creature comfort?
What if we consider that the line that divides us is only as big as we let it be?
A truce can start with just one person—one voice. It can begin with you and me.
Now that would be a beautiful thing.