Friday, December 21, 2007

How To Call A Christmas Truce and Stop The War Within

I have another powerful story to share and this time it is a true historical account from World War I. The story serves as a wonderful reminder that we all have the ability to call a truce and enjoy a moment of peace. This is a great way to bring closure to the past year and create space and energy for expanded possibilities in the new year. In my case, I will make the effort to call a truce between my heart and my head and cultivate peace within.

Part I: True Historical Account of the Christmas Truce
(paraphrased from

You are standing up to your knees in the slime of a waterlogged trench. It is the evening of 24 December 1914 and you are on the dreaded Western Front.

All is quiet when jovial voices call out from both friendly and enemy trenches. Then the men from both sides start singing carols and songs. Next come requests not to fire, and soon the unthinkable happens: you start to see the shadowy shapes of soldiers gathering together in no-man's land laughing, joking and sharing gifts.

Plucking up your courage, you haul yourself up and out of the trench and walk towards the foe...

The meeting of enemies as friends in no-man's land was experienced by hundreds, if not thousands, of men on the Western Front during Christmas 1914. Today, 93 years after it occurred, the event is seen as a shining episode of sanity from among the bloody chapters of World War One - a spontaneous effort by the lower ranks to create a peace that could have blossomed were it not for the interference of generals and politicians.

Part II: At War With Ourselves

We are all at war with something or someone, and almost all of us are at war with ourselves.

I often experience a war happening inside myself between my heart and my head. My heart is moved in one direction but my head is entrenched on the Western Front. My head fires its big guns, telling me,

"It isn't possible. You might end up looking like a
fool. You might fail. And then people won't think
that you are good/cool/successful."

My heart retreats. It moves back into the trench, frightened by the sound of the guns, still yearning to be free. I remain frustrated and restless as long as the war wages on.

Ultimately, I know that I have the power to stop the fighting and that it is up to me to call a truce. And so I will.

Part III: How To Call A Truce

This year I intend to have a Christmas truce. I intend to facilitate a conversation between my heart and my head in the hope that these two important parts of myself can find a bit of common ground. I intend to relieve my head from the burden of always shooting everything down and I intend to let my heart go exploring.

Maybe it will only last one day. Maybe it will last longer. Either way, I know that my heart and my head will enjoy a taste of peace this Christmas. Who knows, it might blossom...

I encourage you to look at the battles you have been fighting, especially those raging on within yourself beneath the "I've got everything under control" surface. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How am I fighting against myself?
  • Where do I feel this battle happening inside me?
  • What effect does this war have on me and my life?
  • What would be possible if I wasn't fighting?

Invite the two apparent enemies to have a conversation. Ask each of them:

  • What are you fighting for?
  • What do you want?
  • What are you afraid of?
  • How can you help each other?

Finally, ask yourself, "What can I do to make peace in 2008?"

Expect it to work and keep practicing.

Part IV: Dalai Lama Quote on Peace

"We cannot achieve world peace without first achieving peace within ourselves - Inner Peace. In an atmosphere of hatred, anger, competition, and violence, no lasting peace can be achieved. These negative and destructive forces must be overcome by compassion, love, and altruism."

- His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

1 comment:

Jenny said...

Adrian - thanks for this post. I think the question "How am I fighting against myself" is a particularly striking one. For me, the first thing that came to mind is my constant battle with dessert: "Eat the cake, it will be delicious" versus the voice saying "You'll regret it." Then I realized there are much larger battles I fight - particularly those where I'm doubting and second-guessing myself - like you said. Even bringing awareness to these battles will help. You can't call a truce if you don't first recognize there's a struggle going on. Have a wonderful holiday!