Today is the 98th anniversary of the Armistice that ended the First World War. We’re not just remembering the dead and their families, we’re celebrating the end of a gruesome conflict. Cessation of hostilities is good.
We’re not fighting with Germany any more, but we seem to be fighting amongst ourselves rather a lot. Brexiteers vs Remainers; Trumparians vs Clintonistas; the bigots vs the enlightened; throwing bricks at protests; being mean on Twitter.
The Germans called for a ceasefire because it looked like they were losing the war anyway. The Allies accepted the olive branch, presumably not just because they were guaranteed to be declared winners, but because any fighting at all has casualties.
Whether we’re talking about the sorts of trench-based horrors we office- and library-dwellers struggle to imagine, or milder forms of upset associated with someone saying you’re a racist because of how you voted, these are the sorts of things best avoided if we want to achieve anything at all. King Solomon was wise because his method of dispute resolution was not to cut the baby in half down the middle. We should be able to do the same; to deal with whatever differences we have, not reinforce them.
It’s a lesson we probably shouldn’t need reminding of on Armistice Day. But here it is: lay down your flipping swords of self-righteousness, y’all. Britain’s place in Europe, the way forward for America, etc etc, are complex enough that it shouldn’t be obvious to you, whichever side you’re on, that you are right; and in any case, progress requires us to dig ourselves a little way out of our trenches (or the information bubbles that Facebook’s algorithms create). If the Allies and the Germans could do it after what they’d witnessed, then so, for goodness’ sake, can you.