Faith, Politics, and Transitions in Brussels

The Gift of Peace: Christmas and the End of War



“This is a war universe. War all the time. That is its nature. There may be other universes based on all sorts of other principles, but ours seems to be based on war and games. All games are basically hostile. Winners and losers. We see them all around us: the winners and the losers. The losers can oftentimes become winners, and the winners can very easily become losers.” — William S Burroughs


War is not a gift. War does not make great men, nor does it make humanity great. War is destruction, and there is no glory in it. In the most just cases, it is unfortunate necessity, a lose-lose situation. War is not a game. War is not fun. War will end.


And that will be a gift. It is the gift of peace that we must celebrate. Peace is not merely the absence of war or conflict. Peace is the establishment of right relationships. Right relationships between nations, peoples, persons, humanity and creation, and humanity and God. Peace is the establishment of universal good will and trust and hope. In many ways, peace reflects the true nature of a game.

Peace is in essence the truest game. I say this, because I ardently disagree with the highlighted quote. Not with the fact that this is a war universe, but that in all games there are “winners” and “losers,” and that is what games are about. Rather, I think that in the truest games, in the most open and fun and beautiful games, the players are played by the game; they are taken up into the game, not to win or to lose or to fight, but to play. It is this play that defines peace. Peace is perfect play.

In every game, there are at least two players. Peace cannot be had on your own. Peace abides no isolationists, but rather right relationships. In these relationships, the play of peace rises. In the ebb and flow of dialogue, goods, peoples, and identities, we play together — discovering who we are through the interaction with the other that can most fully take place in peace. Peace is a game; it is the last game, for it is one that does not end when played rightly.

And this is one of peace’s fundamental differences with war — for war will end. Because of the logic of war, all war moves towards its ultimate end, its self-destruction. In the rationale of destruction, there is no limit. Within the essence of war, there are no rules, no conventions, no crimes. These are external constraints we’ve put on war, but they do not exist within it as such. War is destructive and not productive, so it ultimately runs out of fuel, as it runs out of things to kill.

One hundred years ago tomorrow, there was a spontaneous truce along parts of the front in World War One. Peace broke out, as Christmas approached. Soldiers that were just shelling and killing each other stopped. They exchanged tidbits and played games and celebrated communion. If leaders had had clearer foresight, they would have seen the beginnings of a European Union in this movement. It was a productive time; it created relationships and hopes. These are the consequences of peace.

May we this Christmas, strive towards the cessation of all wars. May we break down the barriers between us and our enemies to see them as human, as like us. And may that inspire us to seek peace with them, a right relationship, so that we together can participate in the renewal and productivity of peace.

— Jeremy