Hide table of contents

The little girl saw her first troop parade and asked,
“What are those?”
“What are Soldiers?”
“They are for war. They fight and each tries to kill
as many of the other side as he can.”
The girl held still and studied.
“Do you know…I know something.”
“Yes, what is it you know?”
“Some day they’ll give a war and nobody will come.”

— Carl Sandburg, “The People, Yes.” (1936)

When I was younger I spent a lot of time thinking about the WWI Christmas day truce.

The Germans placed candles on their trenches and on Christmas trees, then continued the celebration by singing Christmas carols. The British responded by singing carols of their own.

The two sides continued by shouting Christmas greetings to each other. Soon thereafter, there were excursions across No Man’s Land, where small gifts were exchanged, such as food, tobacco, alcohol, and souvenirs such as buttons and hats. The artillery in the region fell silent. The truce also allowed a breathing spell where recently killed soldiers could be brought back behind their lines by burial parties. Joint services were held. In many sectors, the truce lasted through Christmas night, continuing until New Year's Day in others. By some estimates, over a 100,000 soldiers participated in the truce.

Famously, soccer matches (football, if you want to be weird about it) were played between the two sides.

Lieutenant Kurt Zehmisch of the 134th Saxon Infantry Regiment said that the English “brought a soccer ball from their trenches, and pretty soon a lively game ensued. How marvellously wonderful, yet how strange it was”.

I couldn’t understand. Why didn’t they see that the war was also a game, a game they could simply choose to stop playing, why didn’t they see the whole charade for what it was, how could they go back to killing the men that they had just played football with, the men that they had just sang and ate and drank with, why didn’t they all wake up from the nightmare all at once, how could they why didn’t they how could they

So I’ve had this dream in my head for some time now, this dream that one day “they’ll give a war and nobody will come”. Sometimes I daydream about how it could happen.

Did you know that in 1518, in Strasbourg, a dancing plague broke out and somewhere between 50 and 400 people took to dancing for weeks, or that in 1962, in Tanganyika, there was an epidemic of laughter?

The laughter epidemic began on January 30, 1962, at a mission-run boarding school for girls in Kashasha. It started with three girls and spread throughout the school, affecting 95 of the 159 pupils, aged 12–18. Symptoms lasted from a few hours to 16 days, averaging around 7 days. The teaching staff were unaffected and reported that students were unable to concentrate on their lessons. The first outbreak in Kashasha lasted roughly 48 days. The school was forced to close on March 18, 1962. When it reopened on May 21, a second phase of the outbreak affected an additional 57 pupils. The all-girls boarding school reclosed at the end of June.

The epidemic spread to Nshamba of the Muleba District, a village 55 miles west of Bukoba, where several of the girls lived. In April and May 1962, 217 mostly young villagers had laughing attacks over the course of 34 days. The Kashasha school was sued for allowing the children and their parents to transmit it to the surrounding area. In June, the laughing epidemic spread to Ramashenye girls' middle school, affecting 48 girls. Additional schools and the Kanyangereka village were also affected to some degree. The phenomenon died off 18 months after it started. All areas affected were within a 100-mile radius of Bukoba. In all, 14 schools were shut down and 1000 people were affected

What if it were like that—a planet-consuming plague of peace that starts with three giggling schoolgirls. Or perhaps it could start with a dream. It could be like Ray BradBury’s 1951 short story The Last Night of the World.

"It first happened about four nights ago."
"A dream I had. I dreamed that it was all going to be over, and a voice said it was; not any kind of voice I can remember, but a voice anyway, and it said things would stop here on Earth. I didn't think too much about it the next day, but then I went to the office and caught Stan Willis looking out the window in the middle of the afternoon, and I said, A penny for your thoughts, Stan, and he said, I had a dream last night, and before he even told me the dream I knew what it was. I could have told him, but he told me and I listened to him."
"It was the same dream?"
"The same. I told Stan I had dreamed it too. He didn't seem surprised. He relaxed, in fact. Then we started walking through the office, for the hell of it. It wasn't planned. We didn't say, Let's walk around. We just walked on our own, and everywhere we saw people looking at their desks or their hands or out windows. I talked to a few. So did Stan."
"And they all had dreamed?"
"All of them. The same dream, with no difference."
"Do you believe in it?"
"Yes. I've never been more certain."
"And when will it stop? The world, I mean."
"Sometime during the night for us, and then as the night goes on around the world, that'll go too. It'll take twenty-four hours for it all to go."
They sat awhile not touching their coffee. Then they lifted it slowly and drank, looking at each other.
"Do we deserve this?" she said. "It's not a matter of deserving; it's just that things didn't work out. I notice you didn't even argue about this. Why not?"
"I guess I've a reason", she said.
"The same one everyone at the office had?"
She nodded slowly. "I didn't want to say anything. It happened last night. And the women on the block talked about it, among themselves, today. They dreamed. I thought it was only a coincidence." She picked up the evening paper.
"There's nothing in the paper about it."
They moved through the house and turned out the lights and went into the bedroom and stood in the night cool darkness undressing and pushing back the covers. "The sheets are so clean and nice."
"I'm tired."
"We're all tired."
They got into bed and lay back.
"Just a moment", she said.
He heard her get out of bed and go into the kitchen. A moment later, she returned. "I left the water running in the kitchen sink", she said.
Something about this was so very funny that he had to laugh. She laughed with him. They stopped laughing at last and lay in their cool night bed, their hands clasped, their heads together.
"Good night", he said, after a moment.
"Good night", she said, adding softly, "dear…

What if it were like that—what if one night we all dreamed the same dream, not of a world ending but of a new world beginning, and when we awoke, it was understood: the nightmare is over.

I’m choosing to write this now because of the recent events in Russia. Putin’s grasp on power feels a little more precarious than it did just a few days ago. It’s difficult to say, but we could be near a tipping point. Morale, trust, confidence, loyalty—these can be oh-so-fickle at times like these.

I suggest we pick a day. Not too soon, we need to leave time for the word to spread, for the wave to swell. We could pick Christmas day, but that has already been done and what we want to do is unprecedented.

I suggest we choose a day of no particular significance.

October 28th, 2023 (10-28-23)

That will be the Day we speak peace into existence, the Day the self-fulfilling prophecy is fulfilled, the Day the Dream comes true.

I think the best way to get the word out is to do it like one those early internet chain mails: “Forward this to 7 people or you will be cursed with 7 years of bad luck!!!”.

All who read this, hear ye hear ye

Forward this to three people or you will be cursed to slowly lose all hope for a better world and all sense of childlike innocence and wonder.

You will be tempted to shout it from the mountain tops, to post about it on social media websites owned by amateur cage fighters, to tell anyone and everyone who will listen about the Day—do not do this. Only speak about it in whispers, and even then do not speak of it too directly, or at length—a simple “The Day is coming” or “Are you ready for the Day?” will suffice. The message must percolate up from the grassroots and spread through the grapevine, it must be scribbled on the walls of bathroom stalls, spray painted on abandoned buildings, put in glass bottles and sent out to sea.

All who read this, hear ye hear ye

October 28th, 2023 (10-28-23)

That will be the Day we meme our way to peace!








More posts like this

No comments on this post yet.
Be the first to respond.
Curated and popular this week
Relevant opportunities