War for each other. War is a state

War inflicts death and suffering on everyone. Soldiers may try to find reason in war, but all it is, is senseless death and murder.  For many, war is a fight for one’s country, and beliefs, yet it is also a fight that the soldiers would rather not fight. It is a fight that they do not want, one that takes them away from their families and homes. Despite the horror that war brings, the world only knows war. The world has created wars over issues as small as a soccer game, or as large as liberty for a nation. The world has also known peace. It has experienced Gandhi marching for India, or MLK fighting for Civil Rights. The world has even experienced a Christmas Truce in the year 1914, a truce that personifies the best of humans. The Christmas Truce of 1914 inspires and lays the groundwork needed for a peaceful end to war by serving as an example of human disobedience towards war and politics, and how the true power to end war is not held within money or status, but rather in the people and their love for each other.   War is a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations (Merriam-Webster). It is defined by blood and deaths. War is caused by either politics or ethnicity and religion. Politics are activities related to government or state of affairs, and in relation to war, it is usually between two opposing sides –parties, individuals or even countries- seeking power. When two political sides debate or argue, the result is usually a new law or rule which resolves the immediate problem, but not the long-term problem. To gain the upper hand, the tactic most commonly used is war. War is a means of forcing your opponent into submission by taking away all their resources and support, eliminating any chance they have of fighting back. They are forced to submit and one side remains victorious, or so is the idea. In reality, both sides are usually destroyed to a point where they are unable to effectively implement any policies or really control the aftermath of the war.  On top of this, there is a sense of hate between the oppressed people, usually leading to a revolt or civil war. War leads to more war, and creates an endless cycle of death and murder in the name of revenge. The second reason for war is often religion. Religion is a belief of a group towards an entity, such as a God. Religion creates a sense of community within the believers, but leads to hate and persecution from the outsider. The issue is explained by John Avery. He says, “Humans have a tendency to be kind and protective towards members of their own group; but if they perceive the group to be threatened by outsiders, they are willing to kill or be killed to defend it”(Avery). This has led to such genocides like the Holocaust, or wars based on religion such as the Crusades. Regardless of the reason, war is never truly justified, yet it has become an integral part of human history, shaping the world to what it is now.   WWI was heralded as the “Great War” and the “War to end all wars”. It was one of the bloodiest times in world history, yet in this time of great massacre and bloodshed, there was a time of peace.  The fighting came to a halt on the Western front on Christmas Eve and Day in 1914. There was a ceasefire, not negotiated by diplomats or leaders, but rather by the soldiers themselves. In fact, the superiors were against the idea, with reports stating, “most higher-ranking officers felt the business of war had to go on. Because fresh troops and ammunition began to arrive as winter came on, the British High Command decided to put a complete end to fraternization by launching a series of large-scale raids”(Hyde). Yet, brotherhoods had begun to form in the trenches, where soldiers would occasionally greet each other and exchange souvenirs. This sense of brotherhood truly flourished on Christmas Eve.  The soldiers, most of them Christians, truly believed they were fighting for the right cause, the noble cause. Despite this, they did not want to participate in such violence on such a day as Christmas. With just a simple head nod or a look of a agreement, all violence stopped for the night. All the soldiers became brothers for the night, exchanging gifts or even playing a game of soccer in the freezing cold. There was no sense of distrust, and for this one night, both sides truly understood each other. The event is recounted by a soldier which participated in the ceasefire, the seemingly invincible Anderson, who was awarded France’s highest honour – the Légion d’Honneur. He speaks of the event, but also of the regret of it. He says, “‘but there was a dead silence that morning, right across the land as far as you could see. We shouted “Merry Christmas”, even though nobody felt merry. The silence ended early in the afternoon and the killing started again. It was a short peace in a terrible war” (Martin). He began to ask himself:  what if such peaceful events actually led to more than just a moment of peace? Could such events lead to an end of war? As told by this account, the Christmas Truce was a peaceful day, but that is all it was, a day. Despite being full of lessons and power, the Christmas Truce was not able to achieve an end to the war. It did, however, serve as an example which spawned many more truces, which only further cemented the meaning and lessons behind such truces.   In all reality, the Truce of 1914 was not the first of its kind. It had actually been a long-standing tradition that any conflict ceases for holidays such as Christmas. The tradition continued through 1914, and even as recently as 1969, in the Nigeria-Briefa War. Similar to the Christmas Truce of 1914, soldiers exchanged gifts and compared notes, informally agreeing to be cautious about killing each other on the orders from the superiors. By January of 1970, the war was over. Soldier’s morale had reached a point in which the war would no longer be possible. They no longer wished to kill, and reached a point of understanding each other. The truce taught humanity that “at the end of the day, no matter which side of the divide we belong, nothing is ever resolved in crisis or by the barrels of the guns. It is a message that those soldiers taught us a hundred years ago today, a message the world ignored to its own peril” (“In Memory of the Christmas Truce”). Furthermore, historians such as Brian Wilson have described the truce as ” an extraordinary example of how wars can only continue if soldiers agree to fight.  It represents the potential of human disobedience to insane policies”(Wilson). Essentially, a war cannot continue if the soldiers are not there to fuel it, similar to how a tank cannot continue, despite how powerful, without a driver. If people were to lose the desire to fight in a war, then there would be no wars. It also demonstrates that even soldiers are able to see beyond themselves. Humans are not selfish beings, despite how it might seem. Every human being wants only to love, and to be loved. Due to this, anything is possible when people work together and deploy all their traits, with all their diversity, in the promotion of a worthier cost. Human beings are powerful beyond measure, and all that passion can be harnessed to accomplish amazing feats. War is not a necessity, as shown by the Christmas Truce. Two sides, who had killed each other in cold blood for years suddenly decided to stop fighting, and that night there was no killing. If they had kept it up, the war would have been over. The world must really consider if they are really in wars because they need to be, or simply because they choose not to end it and seek a better solution.    The rule of life is to learn from previous mistakes. War, however, is a lesson that mankind can never quite seem to grasp. The so-called “Era of Peace” is nothing more than a title, as the world right now is far from peace. The United States does not experience war in the homefront, and because of this, many have become blind or unaware of the violence being conducted across the sea. Afghanistan has been in the state of war since 2001, when the United States invaded the nation after the Taliban government failed to hand over Osama Bin Laden. The Taliban lost control soon enough, and relocated to southern Afghanistan and Pakistan and have continued to wage war against the U.S and powers from the United Nations since. The U.S. has slowly been decreasing the number of soldiers placed in Afghanistan, with the soldiers active in Afghanistan currently at 14,000 according to cfr.org. Despite this, the situation does not seem to be improving. “In just the first four months of 2017, more than 2,500 Afghan National Security Forces service members were killed and over 4,200 were wounded. The first six months also saw near record-high number of civilian casualties, with the UN documenting 1,662 civilian deaths and 3,581 civilian injuries. In 2016, there were over 18,500 ANDSF casualties and 11,418 civilian casualties”. Furthermore, there is a very real fear that a resurgence of Taliban insurgency could once again turn Afghanistan into a terrorist safe haven. The situation is worsening, and presents a very real danger to the stability of Afghanistan and the nations surrounding it. Afghanistan is not the only war, however. Syria is currently experiencing the worst war in their history, one that is possibly more critical than the war in Afghanistan.   The Syrian Civil War serves as an example of public backlash towards a leader. What began as protests and criticism towards President Assad’s regime in 2011 quickly escalated into a full-scale war between the Syrian government –backed by Russia and Iran- and anti-government rebel groups backed by the U.S, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and others in the region. The violence spilled into neighboring lands and threatened much of the area surrounding it. Furthermore, terrorist groups such as ISIS meditated attacks against Paris, the U.K, and other countries, forcing their participation in the conflict. The Syrian Government also demonstrates acts of violence, using chemical weapons against citizens and killing all people thought to be in relation to the rebel groups. Regardless of which side is right, which is arguably neither side, the damage and effects on the country and its citizens are devastating.   According to the Syrian Center for Policy Research and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, since the start of the war, more than 470,000 people have been killed, 4.8 million have fled the country, and 6.1 million have been internally displaced. Many refugees have fled to Jordan and Lebanon, straining already weak infrastructure and limited resources. More than 2.9 million Syrians have fled to Turkey, and many have attempted to seek refuge in Europe (“Civil War in Syria”).   Similar to the Afghanistan War, the state in Syria only seems to worsen. The war is becoming a very real threat to the stability of Syria and to the overall goal of peace in the world.    The next step is the most crucial step. The sad reality is that with the power modern weapons, such as nuclear bombs, civilization cannot survive in the long run. Wars such as the war in Afghanistan and Syrian Civil War are prime examples of the dangers caused by armed conflict. The problem with stopping war is that the world must then provide an alternative, a global sense of security which can replace national armies. As the truce teaches, humans do not want to fight, but feel they need to because they do not trust the system, the side they are fighting against. They see a threat, and they react. If they were to have trust on the other side, however, there would be no dispute. The issue with war is that there is no guaranteed way to end it, but there is always a place to start. The most basic way is to vote, as the leader chosen has the power to determine how the nation will be run. In many cases, however, leaders are not chosen, but rather rise to power. In these cases, it seems that taking them out of power is the only way to stop them. The natural resort is violence, but this is not always the best choice. Leaders such as Gandhi demonstrated how to defeat leaders and even entire countries or organizations in peaceful manners. The Truce showed mankind that they are capable of defying the authority, and defying them for a better cause. This can be accomplished through protest, through appeals, boycotts, marches and more. Social media has given the world a new power, and no longer is the world limited to what enterprises put out, but rather to what people put out.    Once peace is established, however, the issue of how to maintain the peace arises. At the core of all peace is understanding and acceptance. To truly create peace, all countries need to be able to cooperate with each other. According to reporters such as Hadley Stephens, his could begin in Afghanistan where “the United States should facilitate an India-Pakistan dialogue on the full range of economic and political issues, including their mutual concerns in Afghanistan, without trying to stage-manage the results”(Hadley). This approach can continue through the establishment of peaceful reconciliation table led by a governing body. At this table, all political disputes involving all elements of society could be discussed and administered by the governing body.  Countries would be allowed to run as they see fit, but would have to consult with the governing body in all cases related to peace or the lack thereof. Whether war occurs or not, however, will ultimately lay in the hands of the people. They are the ones who choose whether they want peace or war. They choose whether to love or hate. They choose whether to be brothers or enemies. The Christmas Truce is an example of what can happen when human beings truly experience peace and understanding with each other. People must not seek the easy way out, and as Thomas Mann once said, “War is a cowardly escape from the problems of peace”.   Only those who never experienced war desire war. Once witnessed firsthand; brothers and comrades dying in your arms, the bodies piling up on the field, the screams for mercy, only then does someone really learn to hate war. Those brave soldiers in 1914 hated war. They despised it, but they were locked in it. Yet, they would not let war take away the love and passion they had. In that one night, they showed that war has no power over them. They showed that war is not the absolute power, the people are. Historians, and society in general, hate admitting that the Christmas Truce really existed, even going as far as to call it a myth, because they disliked the idea. They disliked how the Christmas Truce goes against all they have been taught. The Christmas Truce is a glimpse into the ideal world, and people detest acknowledging it because they detest admitting that mankind has created a less than ideal world. The world must begin to change now. Instead of spending 600 billion on the military, the USA should split it into nonviolent and prevention means. Afghanistan and Syria are both conflicts that could have been avoided, but now have to be stopped before they escalate to uncontrollable heights.  The people must begin to speak up and challenge the idea of war. The people must act as brothers, as they did the one cold night in 1914, because either humanity brings an end to war, or war will bring an end to mankind.  


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