Tuesday, December 24, 2019

(240) The Miraculous 1914 Christmas Truce of World War I


       In 1914 Europe was a powder keg waiting for a spark to set it off.  Nationalism and militarism were rampant in the monarchies.  The nations competed with each other on colonies, borders, natural resources, and trade interests.  Europe was polarized by complex alliances.  The decline of the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) created a power vacuum.  Poland, no longer a nation with borders, had been divided up since 1793 among Germany, Austria, and Russia, which ruled Bulgaria.  The Austria-Hungary Empire was in control of  present day Czech Republic, Slovakia, the Balkan countries of Croatia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Slovenia, and much of the Ukraine as well as other ethnic groups, all of which yearned for independence.  For an ethnic map of Austria-Hungary see

The spark came on June 28, 1914.  In Sarajevo a Bosnian Serb nationalist, Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria, as well as his wife.  After an ultimatum, Austria declared war on Serbia; the allied blocks came to the aid of one side or the other and the war was on…….Britain, France, Belgium, Italy, Serbia, Russia, and Romania vs. Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey.  America had immigrants from all of these countries.  The conflict became a full blown world war in 1917 when the United States was drawn into it.

In all of these countries after a lot of pomp and ceremony, patriotic rallies, huge parades with many on horseback, and thousands cheering, the young men were sent out to bring glory for the motherland.  Then reality set in as millions of young men suffered through the variants of weather, the cruel killing, the battle wounds and death for their countries.  

       Since almost all of the countries involved were Christian at the time (much less today), Pope Benedict XV did all he could to stop the killing with numerous appeals.  The Pontiff called for a truce for the birth of Christ; he was ignored, but God apparently answered his prayers by arranging for a truce anyway as we shall see.
      Trench warfare continued for months along the 600 miles of trenches on the Western Front (Northern France).  The trenches were about six feet deep with a couple of inches of water, even knee deep after a couple days of rain.  They would often use periscopes to observe the enemy line.  Under unsanitary conditions in close quarters, dysentery, cholera, typhoid fever, frostbite, lice, and trench foot were common.  The Eastern Front extended from the Baltic Sea down to the Balkans.

       The Western Front was relatively static as they would fight endless battles over small pieces of ground.  Extensive artillery barrages preceded infantry charges over the top of the trench in the face of barbed wire and withering machine gun fire, leaving bodies piled up in “No Man’s Land” between the opposing trenches.  The charging force would finally retreat and the enemy would take his turn to charge.  It was back and forth for the next four years, like a scoreless football game, but here the game was deadly.      
Although the pundits predicted that the war would be over quickly, any thoughts of being home for Christmas evaporated.  By December 1914 weeks of heavy rain had turned both the trenches and No Man’s Land into a cold, muddy morass.  For those on the Western Front, daily life was miserable, but it was a misery that soldiers on both sides shared together, separated by only 50 yards in some places, 25 yards in one case.  They could hear each other sing during lulls in the fighting.

      Then it was Christmas Eve on a frosty well below freezing starlit night, reminiscent of that holy night when the shepherds were tending their sheep in the hills outside of Bethlehem over 1900 years before.  During a lull in the fighting, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) soldiers saw lanterns and small fir trees with lit candles along the enemy trenches.  They heard German soldiers singing such traditional carols as “Stille nacht, heilige nacht……..” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Fos5pibAiQ).   The  British troops applauded.  They responded with “Silent night, holy night…….” and the Germans clapped.  Then both sides together sang the international carol, “Adeste Fidelis” (Latin for “O Come All You Faithful” see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kz13ufATook)  Elsewhere on the front the Belgians, French, and the French Canadians were singing their carols “Douce nuit, sainte nuit…….” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieiDrKToeg0).

British and German Soldiers caroling in the same trench.
On Christmas Day the weather was beautiful and sunny, but cold.  A few soldiers popped out of the trench for a second or two, waved, and shouted “MERRY CHRISTMAS!”.  Nobody shot at them.  A couple of British soldiers ventured out with their arms spread and a few Germans came out.  “They shook hands and then everybody flocked out!”  The enemies swapped cigarettes, cigars, cognac and rum taken from local pubs, badges, souvenirs, even plum pudding which the Queen sent to the British troops, and took photos of each other.  They talked about each other’s wife and kids.  Why can’t enemies do that today?  “We talked about a truce on New Year’s day because the Germans wanted to see how the photos came out.”  

Isolated spontaneous events like this occurred all across the front.  One British soldier mused:  “It’s just didn’t seem right to be killing each other at Christmas time.”  A British chaplain and a German divinity student had a joint Christmas service together.  Both sides gathered their dead in No Man’s Land and buried them.  They even had a joint burial service with military honors.  

The combatants of both sides come together to celebrate the birth of the Christ child.

         In another part of the front, the British troops heard a shout:  You no shoot; we no shoot”.  Miraculously, the shelling stopped and the guns went silent…… at least for a little while along 2/3 of the 30 mile British front.  This was one of many usually independent, isolated, spontaneous, impromptu mini truces all across the western front.  According to one veteran, “It just happened.  No one expected it, let alone organize it.”  Mostly Christians on both sides could not kill on Christmas day.  So many men on both sides were involved in forbidden fraternization that there was little the generals could do.  Is that a miracle or what?

German and British soldiers gathered together in the same trench for some caroling on Christmas.  Then they come together for a little partying and drinking outside a trench.  They all realized that the enemy soldiers their governments demonized in propaganda aren’t much different than themselves with the same aspirations, love of family, etc.  “They seemed to be decent fellows”, one Brit observed.   They must have felt like brothers killing each other…..Saxons on the German side, Anglo Saxons on the British side!  To their surprise some of the German soldiers spoke English, a few visited Britain, even lived and worked in London for a while.

See the Appendix for links to videos and excerpts of eye witness accounts of the combatants through the letters they sent home. 

Soccer. Then in the afternoon there were several friendly soccer matches between the combatants.  Apparently there was a soldier or two who loved the game so much that they managed to stuff a soccer ball into their backpacks.  In other games they improvised soccer balls with sandbags or whatever.  Some of the results even hit the London newspapers.  Among the scores were Brits 3 Germans 2.  In another game it was Germans 4 Brits 1.  These friendly games were more meaningful and historically noteworthy than when Britain would play Germany for the World Cup.  

   Wouldn’t it be nice if we could settle our political, economic, and ideological differences on the soccer field instead of shooting each other’s heads off?   That’s just a dream of course, but it makes more sense than this war which caused 17 million deaths and 20 million wounded.  About half of all combatants were either killed or wounded. 
If only both sides could confide in a neutral international court or arbitrator to settle differences.  The Pope was just that arbiter at one time among Catholic countries.  Portuguese is spoken in Brazil today because Pope Alexander VI arbitrated a demarcation line at 47.6 degrees west longitude in 1494 in the Western Hemisphere.  Spanish speaking countries are on the western side of the line.

       The truce was not observed everywhere along the Western Front.  The fighting continued in some places and casualties did occur on Christmas Day.  Two British soldiers were killed by snipers while giving gifts to the enemy.  The Bavarians apologized.  On the Eastern Front a group of Russian soldiers came with a white flag and invited their Austrian counterparts for Easter dinner……another respite or break from the hate and the killing.
       After a few days or after New Years in some places, as the Christmas trees were taken down in their home countries, it was back to the cold, damp, rat infested trenches with the incessant shelling and the gunfire as first one side and then the other would emerge from their trenches to raid or attack the enemy and then move back.  World War I was trench warfare and a war of attrition while the lines remained rather static.

Nevertheless, Christmas 1914 was extraordinary and this truce was miraculous……In the midst of some of the bloodiest warfare ever known, peace could break out, not war and erstwhile enemies could reconcile, even if temporarily. Let us take their example today in both international and interpersonal relations. 

       The top commanders on both sides were alarmed by the Christmas Truce for fear of fraternization and a decrease in the fighting spirit of their men.  It was probably the junior officers who allowed it, while the senior officers did not stop it for fear of hurting morale.  During the Christmases of 1915, 1916, and 1917 before the war ended with an armistice on November 11, 1918, commanders made sure that the Christmas Truce of 1914 would never happen again.  It is really a unique event in military history.  For the rest of the war there were only lulls and tacitly agreed brief pauses or mini truces sufficient to bury the dead and repair the trenches and dugouts.  It was known as the “Live and Let Live” system in the more quiet sectors of the front line.
       Clearly, the grunts who are drafted and forced to make the enemy die for his country would much rather be at home with their loved ones.  War is hell!  War is started and waged by power hungry, nationalistic, and greedy politicians or fanatical ideologues who force their youth to fight as their proxies. 

Fast forward a few years in history, and we see that alliances and the enemy change over time.  In the Cold War between Soviet Communism and NATO (U.S., Canada, and Western Europe), World War II enemies Germany, Italy, and Japan became our allies while the Soviet Union went from ally to enemy.  Today we do business with North Vietnam and even visit the country.  In the USA the people of the North and the South, once bitter enemies in a tragic fratricidal civil war, are now citizens of one prosperous and powerful country.
All of this shows the folly and the tragedy of war, all the money, resources, and human lives spent for what?  True, Poland was reborn as a nation in 1918 and eventually the Czechs, the Slovaks, the Croats, the Slovenians, the Bosnians, and the Ukrainians obtained their independence.  But the human condition due to old fashioned sin is such that we will always have to maintain a vigilant military to preserve our freedom that throughout our history has been so costly to maintain.  Often however, the “enemy is us” as Pogo observed.  We allow our country to decay from within due to collapsing morality while our religious freedom erodes.

Similarly, may Christmas bring a pause in our spiritual cultural war between the left and the right, between liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans.  Let us all celebrate together the true meaning of Christmas which would be a step in finding some common ground and even a degree of reconciliation.  That would make it just a little easier to work together at least on some issues and be civil in discussion and negotiation.    

May God help us to take a path of righteousness and faithfulness to Him.  Let us pray the rosary every day for peace and for the conversion of sinners as Mary taught us at Fatima in 1917.   Then the angels’ announcement to the shepherds in the Gospel of Luke will come true today:  “Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace to men of good will” (Luke 2:14).  


Videos, Documentaries, and Articles

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbQvjNHWLRc – a BBC documentary with interviews of veterans as eye witnesses in their own words. 


https://www.history.com/topics/christmas-truce-1914-world-war-i-soldier-accounts - “What Happened When World War I Paused For Christmas”

Eye Witness Accounts of British Soldiers From Letters Sent Home
(Taken from the National World War I Museum and Memorial Kansas City, MO)

           Then the Germans started shouting across to us, ‘a happy Christmas’ and commenced putting up lots of Christmas trees with hundreds of candles on the parapets of their trenches” (Cpl. Leon Harris, 13th Battalion, London Regiment).

         “We would sing a song or a carol first and then they would sing one and I tell you they can harmonize all right” (Pvt. G. Layton, A Company, 1st Royal Warwickshire Regiment).

          “All through the night we sang carols to them and they sang to us and one played ‘God Save the King’ on a mouth organ” (Rifleman C. H. Brazier, Queen’s Westminsters of Bishop’s Stortford).

           “On Christmas Day we were out of the trenches along with the Germans, some of whom had a song and dance, while two of our platoons had a game of football.  It was surprising to see the German soldiers ---some appeared old, others were boys, and others wore glasses…A number of our fellows have got addresses from the Germans and are going to try and meet one another after the war” (Pvt. Farnden, Rifle Brigade).

          “Between the trenches there were a lot of dead Germans whom we helped to bury.  In one place where the trenches are only 25 yards apart we could see dead Germans half-buried, their legs and gloved hands sticking out of the ground.  The trenches in this position are so close that they are called ‘The Death Trap’, as hundreds have been killed there” (a junior officer).

       "On our right was a regimen of Prussian Guards and on our left was a Saxon regimen.  On Christmas morning some of our fellows shouted across to them saying that if they would not fire, our chaps would meet them half-way between the trenches and spend Christmas as friends.  They consented to do so.  Our chaps at once went out and when in the open, Prussians fired on our men, killing two and wounding several more.  The Saxons, who behaved like gentlemen, threatened the Prussians if they did the same trick again.  Well, during Christmas Day our fellows and the Saxons fixed up a table between the two trenches and they spent a happy time together, and exchanged souvenirs and presented one another with little keepsakes” (a British soldier).

        “The mist was slow to clear and suddenly my orderly threw himself into my dugout to say that both the German and Scottish soldiers had come out of their trenches and were fraternizing along the front. I grabbed my binoculars and looking cautiously over the parapet saw the incredible sight of our soldiers exchanging cigarettes, schnapps and chocolate with the enemy. Later a Scottish soldier appeared with a football, which seemed to come from nowhere, and a few minutes later a real football match got underway. The Scots marked their goal mouth with their strange caps and we did the same with ours. It was far from easy to play on the frozen ground, but we continued, keeping rigorously to the rules, despite the fact that it only lasted an hour and that we had no referee.  A great many of the passes went wide, but all the amateur footballers, although they must have been very tired, played with huge enthusiasm” (Lieutenant Johannes Niemann).

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

(239) Let's Go From Polarization in America to Civility, Reconciliation, and Cooperation Before That Evil Destroys Our Country.........Let's Try a Christian Approach.


An image symbolizing cooperation among diverse persons of Society.  Effective cooperation breeds synergy………i.e. the results of people working together is greater than when working separately; two heads are better than one due to the diversity of ideas and backgrounds.  In other words the whole is greater than the sum of its individual parts.  
      Our country has been polarized in the past……..Slave States vs. Free States; the Union vs. the Confederacy (1861-65); Protestants vs. Catholics; Franklin Roosevelt was loved and he was hated as president (1932-1945).  Mexico went through it during the Cristero War (1926-29) and Spain went through a bitter Civil War (1936-39).

Americans were united during World War I and World War II.  However, today and ever since the 1960s America has been polarized…….Liberals vs. Conservatives, the Left vs. the Right, Pro-Abortion vs. Pro-Life, Secularists vs. Believers, Us vs. Them, and it’s getting worse.  We tend to assume that anyone who disagrees with our thinking or opposes us is evil.  A censure vote isn’t good enough even though that measure is more likely to be bipartisan; the Democratic controlled House of Representatives is out for blood……destroy the President and overthrow him by impeachment.  

       They can’t wait 11 months for the people to decide next November, fearing that they might lose the election.  History shows that throughout the world, severe polarization can lead to revolution, coups, civil war, military suppression, etc.  To everyone’s credit the process has been more or less orderly so far with no violence while there is some semblance of following the Constitution although there are big differences in its interpretation.

A pensive President Bill Clinton at the White House in 1998 during his impeachment ordeal.          

       Terrible Precedents. The Republican controlled House impeached President Bill Clinton in 1998, charging inappropriate sexual behavior with a White House, intern, Monica Lewinsky, perjury, and obstruction of justice.  In the Senate trial, Clinton was acquitted (see https://www.npr.org/2019/12/06/784721754/president-clinton-was-impeached-21-years-ago-some-parallels-run-deep).  

      It is almost certain that the same result will occur again as history repeats itself since the Republican Party has a majority in the Senate and a two thirds vote is required to impeach……..all that time and energy wasted while neglecting the country’s many problems.  The Republicans set a precedent in 1998 in their attempt to impeach President Clinton.  “What goes around comes around”.

Now there is danger of another bitter precedent for the future.  The next time the Republicans control the House and they can’t get along with a Democratic president, they will also resort to the political death penalty to overthrow a duly elected president…….impeachment, which should be only an extreme measure for crimes and treason to peacefully stop an abusive, tyrannical, and corrupt president.  The evidence must be so compelling that a guilty verdict is beyond a reasonable doubt.  In 1973 President Nixon resigned before being impeached because the movement was to a large extent bipartisan and the writing was on the wall……..he would lose.  

Today it’s strictly along party lines with no dissenter on either side, all of which indicates that the whole thing is political and looks terrible around the world.  Regardless of the result of the impeachment proceedings, bipartisanship and cooperation will be very difficult in the future.  Hopefully, at least the friendly but very competitive annual congressional baseball game between the opposite sides of the aisle will survive (see https://wtop.com/sports/2018/06/bayou-brothers-scalise-richmond-bridge-opposite-ends-of-congressional-baseball-game-spectrum/slide/1/).  Its objective is to help the congressmen to better know each other as human beings.

Even the rules and procedures for impeachment are at the whim of the majority party, including the choice of witnesses……..Democrats in the House and Republicans in the Senate.  Fairness is secondary.  Thus there should be permanent rules and procedures for impeachment to maximize fairness.  Impeachment should be compelling and bipartisan.     

Even the Catholic Church and Christianity in general is polarized…….Conservatives and Liberals……those who are faithful to Church teachings and the Cafeteria Catholics who pick and choose what they want to believe.  Among them are Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, Senator Dianne Feinstein, etc…….. “I’m personally opposed to abortion, but I cannot impose my views on others”……a grand cop-out and really capitulation.  

Historically, the Pope was the arbiter and had the final word on doctrine and its Biblical interpretation.  Today the Papacy Church teaching is often ignored by the Left.  The Liberals see nothing wrong with contraception, pre-marital sex, abortion, same sex marriage, gender change, etc.  Some conservatives, on the other hand, only give lip service or are indifferent to Church teaching on social justice, a living wage, helping the poor to help themselves, and equal opportunity for all.  Some are so anti-union that they do not understand the need for workers’ rights and labor-management cooperation.

When people are polarized in a nation, in a community, in the workplace, in an organization, or in an extended family, working together is difficult if not impossible.  Families and friendships are strained if not estranged.  The word “devil" means division; we cannot play into his hands.  How can we foment unity and cooperation, not division and conflict?  It begins with each one of us at any level of society. 

                           President Donald Trump at one of his political rallies.

       True, President Trump is a polarizing figure who is either loved or hated.  His constant tweets……calling unfavorable articles or editorials fake news; saying that the impeachment inquiry is a witch hunt and a hoax, etc.; ridiculing and attacking the character of the political opponent, writer, or commentator who criticizes him……..certainly are not conducive to harmony, bipartisanship, cooperation, compromise, and finding common ground as a starting point for amicable negotiation.    

It is customary for presidents and congressmen to put their assets and businesses into a trust to minimize any appearance of using his political power to favor his businesses.  That and making public his tax returns would be a big help.  There must be some transparency in the administration to build up a certain trust with the people unless national security is at stake.  

The President of the United States should be an example of integrity and foster an atmosphere of ethical operations even if not covered by a law.  He should insist that every official in his administration avoid even the appearance of impropriety because that sets the tone for the entire Executive Branch.  Asking the president of a foreign country to participate as a favor to order the investigation of Joe Biden, a political opponent, and his son, a board member of the Ukraine’s largest gas company is not appropriate.  Elections should be won or lost because of personal qualifications and the issues……..not character assassination or digging up dirt on one's opponent.  “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone” (John 8:7).  We are all sinners; we all have weaknesses.  It’s better to lose ethically than to win by cheating because corruption is eventually exposed by the light.    

Of course, Hunter Biden (a lawyer, lobbyist, and co-founder of an international consulting firm) was appointed to the Board of Directors of Burisma Gas because his father was Vice President of the United States.  A fellow director from Poland confirmed that.  So what is there to investigate?  It’s all about influence.  

The Ukrainian government did not want to get involved.  Granting Trump’s wish to investigate would put their president Volodymyr Zelensky in a very awkward position because he would be accused of being an American puppet.  Furthermore, in January 2021 the President of the United States could be a Democrat.  It would be naive to believe that no one would ever know about Trump’s influence on the investigation.  Sooner or later it would come out as a scandal and Donald Trump paid dearly for taking that foolish risk, almost as bad as the Watergate break-in.  The impeachment is of his own making.  Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, and his other advisers should have known better and steer him away from trouble. 

       Until the secret “whistle blower” sparked a congressional investigation, the Ukrainians did not perceive any pressure, coercion, or quid pro quo.  Otherwise they would have brought it up as a concern with the Trump Administration.  Furthermore, according to a witness, President Trump said: “I want nothing from the Ukrainians” and was adamant about it.  Aid was temporarily suspended with many countries during a reexamination of foreign aid, which was resumed to the Ukraine. 

To accuse the Ukraine, not Russia, of interfering in the 2016 presidential election is so ludicrous and absurd; that country has neither a motive nor the resources to do it.  Believe our intelligence agencies which are excellent.  Visit the Ukraine as I did two years ago and you’ll see how poor it is. 

Civility.  Let’s begin with the premise that anyone who disagrees with our point of view or opposes us is not evil, but sincere, even if sincerely wrong and should be treated with courtesy, respect, and kindness.  It is imperative that both sides have a degree of humility and keep an open mind, knowing that their adversary may at times be right. Let’s put our Christianity into practice…….old fashioned Christian love in the sense that we do care about the good of our adversary and especially the common good.  

Let us realize that “we” and “they” look at an issue or situation with different perspectives, logic, and points of view…….”we” with rose colored glasses, “they” with brown colored glasses.  Seldom does either side have the whole truth; both may have part of the truth.  Thus we can learn from each other and come closer to the truth or best solution.  Respect your adversary’s conscience, however wrong or deformed.     
Ethical competition in business is good for society since the profit motive is a great incentive for innovation, new products, greater quality at a lower price, but it doesn’t have to be dog eat dog.  Ethical competition in political elections is democracy at its best…….promoting new ideas and healthy debate for the common good.

But it doesn’t have to be a quest for power, ego, and personal gain.  A politician worth his salt must have a sincere desire to serve the people.  It doesn’t matter who wins political points and receives the credit as long as the American people benefit…….the common good.  That’s what it’s all about.  And of course with elections and political fights…….be gracious in victory (no gloating) and dignified in defeat (no sulking or bad mouthing).

It is essential that our system of checks and balances to work.  That can only happen if each branch of government cooperates with each other.  Even if the current impeachment process today is a hoax, the Trump Administration should cooperate with the subpoenas that the congressional committees demand to prove the President’s innocence.  They are part of the system of checks and balances and must be preserved.  That gives transparency and breeds cooperation.  If an administration refuses to cooperate with a subpoena, then the Supreme Court should be the final arbiter. Of course, classified documents should be withheld and to some extent executive privilege regarding confidential internal deliberations and advice. 

The American people deserve to know the truth.   Let the chips fall where they may.  Another bad precedent has been set for future administrations to stonewall any congressional subpoena.  This gives the impression that the administration is hiding something.  Of course, classified documents should be withheld.     

The Press and the Media.  Let’s assume that a journalist does not consciously write fake news.  True, bias creeps in with almost every writer.  Let’s get back to Journalism 101.  Every journalist must aspire to be objective as humanly possible.  News reporting should be completely independent of the reporter’s opinion…….just the facts, quoting observers on the scene, and including opposing points of view.  Opinions belong on the editorial page.  The author of investigative reporting must be predisposed to change his/her opinion or point of view if the facts and the evidence warrant it.  


 Idealistic?  The ideal may be never be attained, but it gives direction. Only a few steps in that direction is progress.  

There was a time when senators would address each other with respect, referring to a colleague as “the distinguished senator from Ohio”.  Liberals and Conservatives, Republicans and Democrats had heated debates between opposing points of view, but in the end they could be friends………like true sportsmanship.

Conservative Republican President Ronald Reagan and liberal Democratic Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill in 1982.  They showed that liberals and conservatives can work together and be civil without tearing each apart.  It is possible for enemies to work together when the common good demands.

After his election in 1980, the conservative Republican President Ronald Reagan pursued his agenda of tax cuts, a military buildup, and deregulation, all of which the liberal Democratic Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill had done everything he could to resist as a bitter political enemy of the President.  With the budget deficit rising and the markets getting concerned about Washington’s solvency, the Republican and the Democrat needed each other’s help. The White House wanted to cut domestic spending, including Social Security. O’Neill wanted to safeguard entitlement programs and reverse some of Reagan’s tax cuts that he considered as benefiting the rich.  

      The two sides kept at it for four months.  They announced an agreement that formed the basis of the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982, which increased tax revenues by about one per cent of G.D.P. Reagan and O’Neill also set up a bipartisan commission on Social Security, and the following year they both endorsed a set of reforms that put the finances of the public retirement system on a firmer footing. However, the agreement delayed a cost-of-living adjustment and raised the retirement age. It also increased contributions and cut benefits for future retirees.  See https://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/can-donald-trump-learn-from-ronald-reagan-and-tip-oneill.  Yes it is possible for enemies to work together when the common good demands it.

In my own personal life I have two dear friends, Fred and Kay Turk.  We worked together in Peru as lay missionaries. We all aspired to serve others.  In my opinion they’re wild eyed liberals.  We are on opposite poles in politics as well as on Church renewal.  We would debate into the wee hours; yet remain friends.  They even made me the godfather of Dan, their first born son, whom I visit every year when in Washington for the March For Life.  

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives in 2019-20.

When all of this national turmoil of this year and last is over, resentments and bitterness will remain.  Will we be able to forgive past insults and injuries and work together?  Can’t we understand that both parties so often have similar goals, but different paths to reach them?........more and better jobs, prosperity for all, adequate and affordable medical care for all, equal opportunity, freedom, national security, etc.   Then common ground is possible on at least some issues!  And when there is cooperation on common ground, why not share the credit and thank the opposition for their help?
Nancy Pelosi, the current Speaker of the House of Representatives and leader of the impeachment movement against President Trump, said to a reporter accusing her of hating him: “I pray for the President every day”.  That’s a great start……..opposing forces praying for each other.  That would give great hope.  Let’s pray for our Country and for each other.  After all, for God, anything is possible.
Take the high road. Let us conclude with the words of Abraham Lincoln and Christ Himself.  After a bloody polarizing Civil War President Lincoln sought reconciliation during his inaugural address on March 4, 1865 before the end of the Civil War: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
Christ Himself said: “You have heard that it has been said, You shalt love thy neighbor, and hate your enemy.  But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven……” (Matthew 5:43-45).

Forgive them; that will teach them a lesson.  “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you.” (Matthew 6:14).  Our Lord even forgave his persecutors from the cross:  "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34).  For a large selection of Bible verses on forgiveness, go to https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Forgiving-Others-Who-Hurt-You.

If necessary: “but whoever slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other cheek also” (Matthew 5:38-40).  That is, avoid revenge for harm done that invites more bitterness and escalation.

St. Peter and St. Paul reinforced what their master had said.  “Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult; but, on the contrary, a blessing, because to this you were called, that you might inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:9).

Do not repay anyone evil for evil; be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all.  If possible, on your part, live at peace with all.  Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for God's wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord."  Rather, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.’  Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21).

If Donald J. Trump would take the high road and put those words into practice, Republicans and Democrats and all of America would be on the right path to reconciliation and he could go down in history as one of America’s greater presidents.  His example would have a tremendous impact and win the support of independents.  

May our president have the humility to learn from all of this and grow in wisdom.  To a large extent, the presidency involves on the job training.  No candidate is adequately prepared for the tremendous responsibilities of the presidency.  May Donald Trump learn that his power is limited and cannot do it alone.  He needs all the help he can get, including help from the opposition and especially personal prayer over his decisions.  Pray for our president now and whoever he or she may be in the future.


1.      Barber, Michael and McCarty, Nolan. “Causes and Consequences of Polarization”

2.      McGowan, A. M. “Encouraging Bipartisanship: Polarization and Civility as Rhetorical Tools for Ameliorating the U.S. Senate’s Partisan Environment”. University of Southern Mississippi. May 8, 2015 https://aquila.usm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1065&context=dissertations

3.       Movius, Hal. “How Best to Restore Civility?” CBI, May 4, 2011.

4.      Gibson, Lydialyle. “Can America’s Tattered Civic Life Be Repaired?” Harvard Magazine, December 4, 2019.  https://harvardmagazine.com/2019/12/institute-of-politics-discussion-on-reconciliation-in-american-public-life

National Institute for Civil Discourse.  University of Arizona. https://nicd.arizona.edu/