When the end of the year comes by, people tend to look back. And they talk about peace. Especially then they do and especially politicians and leaders do. Why just they? And what do they bring? In the First World War, in 1914 during the first Christmas of this war, the soldiers wanted a truce, but the generals forbade it. However, on many places along the Western Front the soldiers stopped fighting and spontaneously fraternized with the “enemy” and celebrated Christmas with them. The generals and political leaders were afraid of peace, the soldiers weren’t. A truce and fraternization might have meant the end of the war.
This made me think of something that I have written many years ago in my philosophical diary, which I used for writing down casual remarks and ideas. It was a kind of blog avant la lettre, for blogs did not yet exist. To be exact, it was on September 9, 1988 that I wrote: “Peace is not something to be left to statesman”. In fact, it is not a very original statement. Most likely it weren’t my even own words that popped up in my mind. However, I am afraid that nothing has changed in the world since Christmas 1914 and also not since I noted this statement twenty years ago. Of course, much has changed in the world, but none of these changes have made this self-quotation false. For didn’t the fall of the Berlin Wall a year after I had written this, and didn’t all the developments that made this fall possible and that took place in those days confirm the truth of these words? For wasn’t the fall of Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War mainly the work of the long lasting silent (and often not so silent) nonviolent resistance of the common people in extended parts of Europe who simply didn’t agree with the policy of their leaders who were supposed to be statesman (but often weren’t)? And hasn’t laid this, what I have called elsewhere “underground resistance” (which actually is Václav Havel’s “living in truth”), the foundation for what seems to have become the start of a long lasting peace between most European nations and peoples?