The Christmas Truce

In 1914, in the Big War (WWI), around Christmas, something wondrous happened.

Soldiers in enemy camps very close to each other put down their weapons. For a few moments the war stopped and peace reigned. Enemy soldiers shook hands, joked, played football, exchanged Christmas presents, as if to say “This is not really OUR war…”

And what started this? Music! Christmas carols. Another sign that music, in contrast to economy, religion, politics and even philosophy, is an agent of peace.

If I would have been a soldier there and then I would have thought: WE are not each others enemies. War comes from the inability of politicians to joke, play football and exchange presents. And the best present to anyone is to really listen to them.

Here a most touching video about the Christmas truce. I hold that it contains higher energy of a rare, peaceful kind. Some people feel it, and cry.

All that was in 1914.

Now it is soon Christmas 2017. The viral campaign of #MeToo is part of our current gender war. Is it possible to have a gender truce as well? To lay down our weapons (our very harsh words) and to play football, exchange kind thoughts with each other, to converse, not debate, quarrel and accuse? Maybe even give each other presents?

It is my hope that we can. If German and British soldiers who’s job it was to kill each other could, maybe men and women also can.

Merry Christmas!

Our shadows

By “shadow” I here mean our dark side, what Stevenson portrayed as Mr Hyde, as distinct from Dr Jekyll.

Everybody casts a different shadow, as individuals and as groups.

We men have been invited to look at our shadow for a long time now. Many of us have accepted the invitation, sometimes even too much, resulting in a self-destructive self-image, unjustly negative. Some men have internalized the accusations of being potential rapists and potential pedophiles even though they have absolutely no leanings in that direction.

This could be called male dis-empowerment. However, such word are too oppositional and polarizing. They don’t lead to peace.

What I think is important now is to share, not the limelight but the cellar darkness. The shadow needs to be looked at, by both sexes. Both sex’s shadows.

So I will write a few texts about the female shadow, the dark, unethical side of womankind. Not as a way to get even, to be as hateful as Solanas or other “radical” (violent) feminists. But because it takes two to tango, because we are in this together. Peace is not the job of just one party.

The difficulty of this undertaking should not be (and probably isn’t) underestimated. The courageous Esther Vilar talked a lot about shadows in her book The Manipulated Man, with the result that she was physical assaulted by “sisters”.

That is of course very sad, but to an extent understandable if not forgivable. She expressed herself very directly in a way that almost invited kneejerk reflexes. Still she needs to be read.

So, with all the love, tolerance and paxosophical good-will I can muster, I will soon write about Mrs Hyde.

Peace.

The (im)possibility of it all

Norah Vincent lived one and a half year pretending to be a man (Ned), in order to understand the world of men.

During this time she/he, among other things, dated women. Here’s a quote from her book “Self-made man”.

My excruciating dates … were often alienating and grating enough to make me wonder whether getting men and women together amicably on a permanent basis wasn’t at times like brokering Middle East peace.

I believe we are that different in agenda, in expression, in outlook, in nature, so much so that I can’t help almost believing after having been Ned, that we live in parallel worlds, that there is at bottom really no such thing as that mystical unifying creature we call a human being, but only male human beings and female human beings, as separate as sects.

This is sad. At the same time it is heartening that somebody “infiltrated” the male camp to see how life tastes over here.

Maybe peace and understanding is not possible, but that is a poor reason not to aim for it. Failure can be a noble thing. At least it shows that you have tried.