Prevailing Peace Even In a Time of War: The Christmas Truce of 1914

Milam's Musings

Well, for reportedly two weeks starting on Christmas, during one of the bloodiest wars in human history: the trench warfare of WWI. British and German soldiers stopped fighting and had peace. “Never … was I so keenly aware of the insanity of war.” Indeed. It’s one of my favorite stories ever, so I thought I had to make a blog post on it. Check it, British and German troops:

whoa

From Reason, if you’re unfamiliar with this event from almost exactly 100 years ago:

The truce was a series of unofficial and widespread cease-fires that extended over two weeks. The truce between mostly British and German troops centered on the Western Front, defined by lines of trenches that stretched across France from the North Sea to the border of Switzerland. The trenches were often close enough for the combatants to exchange shouted words and to smell food their adversaries were cooking.

Life in…

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Quote of the Day

“Sometimes when I meet old friends, it reminds me how quickly time passes. And it makes me wonder if we’ve utilized our time properly or not. Proper utilization of time is so important. While we have this body, and especially this amazing human brain, I think every minute is something precious. Our day-to-day existence is very much alive with hope, although there is no guarantee of our future. There is no guarantee that tomorrow at this time we will be here. But we are working for that purely on the basis of hope. So, we need to make the best use of our time. I believe that the proper utilization of time is this: if you can, serve other people, other sentient beings. If not, at least refrain from harming them. I think that is the whole basis of my philosophy.

So, let us reflect what is truly of value in life, what gives meaning to our lives, and set our priorities on the basis of that. The purpose of our life needs to be positive. We weren’t born with the purpose of causing trouble, harming others. For our life to be of value, I think we must develop basic good human qualities—warmth, kindness, compassion. Then our life becomes meaningful and more peaceful—happier.”
Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness

Quote of the Day

“I believe compassion to be one of the few things we can practice that will bring immediate and long-term happiness to our lives. I’m not talking about the short-term gratification of pleasures like sex, drugs or gambling (though I’m not knocking them), but something that will bring true and lasting happiness. The kind that sticks.”
Dalai Lama XIV

Capitalism… How it Helps, Yet Hurts

Pondering the state of affairs, including but not limited to the state of economy, the standard of health care and food quality led me ponder what the benefits and drawbacks of a capitalistic society are. I hope to be objective in the matter and desire input from any readers.

I will begin with the benefits. Firstly, Capitalism gives the incentive of completing a task that is unfavorable or tedious, with the motivation of fiscal reward. Waking up in the morning at 5 am and taking that commute to listen to people moan about why their cable isn’t working correctly seems a lot less daunting if you have that Hawaii vacation or brand new car in mind as a possible reward.

Secondly, it gives you something to be proud of in the sense that it distinguishes you from others, it is a tangible way of expressing to yourself and the world that you are doing something that is worth something. It makes you feel that you aren’t just sitting around, you are contributing.. because if you weren’t, then why would they be paying you?

Thirdly, it gives you a concrete way of comparing yourself to others, drives competition, which consequently inspires many to be the best they can be. For example, the highest paid surgeon, should be the best surgeon. Right? Most people want to be better than the rest at SOMETHING.

That gives them a sense of purpose. To have a nice house and nice car, nice clothing etc means.. I’m worth something.. and if that thought didn’t go through their peers heads, then the appeal would be all but diminished. Just like, if it is known that you have stolen something lets say a Rolex.. you are looked down upon by your peers. It’s still a nice watch, but do you really want to wear it everywhere, even if you face no criminal repercussions? We live in a society in which we value truly earning something, which is great, it satisfies our deep seeded desire to be needed to contribute. However, the problem, in my opinion,is how we gauge that.

Which leads me to how capitalism hurts our society and people in general, especially the ones that aren’t as well suited for the effect that is has on humanitarianism. We are all interconnected. This Ebola outbreak should put a tangible perspective on this. We (myself included) have a tendency to ignore what is not an imperative issue. We procrastinate. We have a certain idea of what is important and what we “worry about” and to take on anymore just seems like too much. So, we worry about ourselves, our loved ones and MAYBE the community immediately around us. For example, Ferguson, Missouri. I am not referring to the racial controversy. For the purpose of this blog, I am merely referring to the fact that there was complete chaos occurring there for days if not weeks. However, most people out of “reach” of the issue were not concerned about it. Maybe on the racial/moral sense… however not so much with it affecting their day to day lives. A better example, the water crisis that affected around half a million people NW Ohio, August of this year. They did not have drinking water available for 2-3 days. However, most Americans, much less the world was either unconcerned, or completely unaware of the situation. Also in part by the media, which is only concerned with making money, but that is another blog entirely.

Capitalism does this, it puts you in a race for financial gain, to the point that that is your main focus, you “don’t have time” to worry about anything or anybody else, UNLESS it affects your ability to pursue said financial gain. It separates you from your neighbor, people in the same city, state, country and most importantly World. As a society we don’t do something because we care about it. We do it because we care about the reward at the end of the tunnel. Did buying that house, car, or purse really make you as happy as you thought? No, because our brain is wired to seek results, and when you achieve the result you thought you desired, you just go on to find a new prize at the end of  a tunnel. Like a dog chasing a bone on a stick, you are eternally chasing something you will never achieve. You will never enjoy the journey until you realize this and just do something because you see the value, or, truly enjoy it.

 

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