Christmas Wish - Peace for Christmas


December 22, 2016

Enough about politics – I'm thinking about war. My Christmas wish for you is at the end of this column.

In this season of goodwill on earth, peace to men and women, do you feel peace?

Can you be at peace, when so many people live in war? Can you be at peace, when so many have no Christmas or New Year's holiday, whether or not it's their religion/culture?

While we're having a good time, people in Aleppo are literally dying; 40 people got killed by a suicide bomb in Aden. Think: Syria. Yemen. The Middle East. South Sudan. Ethiopia. The African horn. Afghanistan.

Santa may have a list, yet it's a different one recording all those countries currently at war. It's on YouTube; the

video's "A Compete List," though it's dated 2014.

Of course there's a website called "Wars In The," showing ongoing conflicts worldwide. I couldn't get it to load - do you think too many wars made it explode?

Social media's showing its split personality disorder, with breathless jumps from season's joy to a close-up video of Aleppo's children asking why America, the most powerful country on earth, doesn't care about them. Watching it rips you inside, if you manage to watch.


Here in America we're so sick of politics; we fret about the relationship between politics and war. Politics pervades war, often precedes it, can complicate or alleviate war. With Donald Trump, choose one of the above.

Four generals in Trump's Cabinet – does this help us move toward peace?

* * *

We are going to have peace even if we have to fight for it.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

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When we examine peacefulness, are we contemplating the absence of war, or the tranquility and calm that can quiet us inside? Lacking the latter, it's disquieting. Is the possibility of war distressing enough so you're missing inner peace this season?

If peace is freedom from disturbance, who's got it? Do you have it, in your Christmas bubble, as you put up with crowds as you search for gifts to make a friend smile?

Can we even compare in any bit of a moment, the angst we feel getting through this stressed season, with the anxiousness of people with no freedom from war? What does Christmas mean to a refugee, or to someone whose family was just killed by war?

* * *

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.

Mahatma Gandhi

* * *

Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a theory by Abraham Maslow; he put basic human needs in priority order. The hierarchy's usually shown as a pyramid, with basic needs at bottom and higher ones on top. A crude example might be that when a person has no food, they're not stressed out by wrapping gifts.


Food; physiological needs; safety (personal, financial, health, well-being); love are towards the bottom. Maslow called these "deficiency needs" - if they're not met, people feel anxious and tense. When you've got them, you advance to higher level needs, like self-improvement and a search for transcendence.

While we in the West crawl through catalogs and shops to find the season's best, human beings around the world are crawling in the rubble to avoid being killed.

The word "peace" is from the 11th century, but in Latin meant the absence of hostility. In early English, it was used for family or group relationships, meaning an absence of agitation.

In some languages peace also means hello or goodbye; think of the Hawaiian aloha or Arabic salaam and Hebrew's shalom.

Do you know who won the Nobel Peace Prize this year?

It was Juan Manuel Santos, "for his resolute efforts to bring Colombia's 50-plus-years-long civil war to an end, a war that cost the lives of at least 220,000 Colombians and displaced close to six million people."

Surely Donald Trump wants peace. So what if war's good for business? How worried should we be?

* * *

Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.

Albert Einstein

* * *

Why is peace so elusive? Is it nature or nurture?

My British friend M. reminds me that peace at Christmas is possible, describing the Christmas truce on the frontline in World War I. German and British soldiers got out of their trenches and played football in no man's land; they exchanged gifts of food and souvenirs, and sang Christmas carols together.

In a situation like 2016 Aleppo, can we dare to hope such a thing might be possible?

Good things still happen: The East London Mosque and Muslim Aid donated ten tons of food to the homeless.

* * *

Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.

Calvin Coolidge

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The longest period of peace? The record goes to Sweden; they've had peace for 202 years, since 1814 (not counting participating in wars in Afghanistan and Libya). There were periods of relative peace in Europe and the world called Pax Britannica (1815-1914) and Pax Europaea/Pax Americana (since the 1950's). Japan's isolation period lasted 250 years, from 1603-1868; the Roman empire's Pax Romana lasted (more or less) 200 years.

* * *

When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.

Jimi Hendrix

* * *

Iceland was the most peaceful country in the world in 2015, according to The Global Peace Index, which checks peace in 162 countries; Syria was the least peaceful. They even changed the name of the Failed States Index to the "Fragile States Index." In 2015, the most fragile country was South Sudan; the least fragile was Finland.

Slovenia was the most peaceful country according to the Peace and Conflict Instability Ledger, used by the University of Maryland to measure peace; Afghanistan was the most conflicted.

* * *

Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one.

John Lennon

* * *

Perhaps we're living in a Christmas bauble of our own doing. To people at war around the world, we must look as if we're all quite frivolous.

We're blessed with California sun on our faces, even at this time of year, with fresh water in our taps - and freedom! No matter what's going on in our crazy politics in the U.S., our Bill of Rights is unalienable.

* * *

Peace begins with a smile.

Mother Teresa

* * *

So what's your Christmas wish this year?

Eliminate war? Eliminate poverty and suffering? End misery and disease?

My Christmas and Chanukah and Kwanzaa wish for you is all you wish for yourself.

Have a Merry. Be kind to people. Be kind to yourself.


©Carole Bell 2016 Carole Bell is a writer interested in everything.

You can write to her at:


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