100 years ago the first Christmas of the First World War offered a huge window on how united we are as a species and the effort necessary to keep us apart.
The trenches in that battlefield were close enough together that the soldiers on both sides could talk to each other. A respect developed that allowed each side to collect their dead and wounded without threat.
Such was the rapport that on Christmas Day the war was ‘unofficially’ put aside, as men climbed out of their trenches and came together to talk and exchange gifts with the ‘enemy’, as well as playing football with them along a number of stretches of the battlefield.
The ‘official’ reaction was horror, encapsulated by a young Charles de Gaulle who spoke with disgust about this “fraternisation and the lamentable desire of French infantrymen to leave the enemy in peace”. Another wrote of the “unfortunate consequences when men become familiar with their neighbours opposite“. Adolf Hitler, a young corporal then, spoke with disgust on the subject . . . An omen for the future!
Brutal reprisals were made on officers and men to subdue any future fraternisation. For me this defines the historic mind-set of ‘Divide & Conquer’ and a perfect example of how the 1% have manipulated and turned the 99% against each other for millennia to protect their hold on power.
During this worst of all wars, the abuse and arrogance of the former showing no concern for the cost of human life or misery. The latter enduring horrific loss of life because of continuously futile charges against machine guns and artillery. (The first day on the Somme saw 57,000 British casualties alone!)
What is it that drives this insane commitment to certain death by so many, with countless stories of the youth lying about their age so they could join up and (unknowingly) feed the slaughter?
The answer, of course, is in the word unknowingly! The propaganda machine has always been brutally efficient, showing then such images as enemy soldiers laughing as they spitted babies on their bayonets and the equally manipulative call to arms with, Your Country Needs You.
How could any young impressionable individual ignore these carefully prepared and placed messages, nor the taunts from others with minds already manipulated? And so they found themselves in water logged trenches, where disease and death go hand in glove, whilst recoiling from daily artillery bombardments that traumatised many for the remainder of their lives, if they actually survived!
I would argue that the true nature of people cannot be suppressed indefinitely, as this Christmas time 100 years ago demonstrated, with friend & foe burying their differences. This lack of aggressive agenda is a defining quality of the 99%, when left to their own devices and despised and feared by the 1%. They know that if they let up for a second with their constant manipulation and propaganda the people will rise up and overthrow them, to live a more peaceable life in a more peaceful world.
As long as that power and those who wield it, is enshrouded in veils of mystery the charade continues. However, we are moving inexorably into a new era, where the internet is tearing down those veils. Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, through their individual courage and integrity, have shown how manipulation and propaganda operates today.
The lines are being as vividly drawn now, by the 1% towards the 99%, as they were with the trenches in that odious war. But once again we are seeing people climbing out of their trenches, uniting and supporting each other in peaceful protest across the globe. And again it is being met by increasingly violent police action and surveillance that attempts to continue the suppression.
Like the First World War, this conflict won’t be over quickly, as the internet is an indomitable force for change. The 99% are discovering that threatening differences they have been constantly fed about each other are no more than the characteristics we all share, simply with a different language and colour of skin.
We are learning that we all laugh and cry at much the same things, we want our children to be healthy and successful and we want to enjoy our lives as freely and fully as possible. We are recognising the abuse that is stopping this from happening and that it is something worth fighting about.
The game of Football has now begun . . . and will continue, unabated, for many Christmas’s!
Until the next time
Thinking from his book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to The 99% . . . If They Want It!
By J T Coombes