In 1991, David Stratman came out with the book “We Can Change the World: The Real Meaning in Everyday Life.”
His main thesis is that radical or revolutionary transformation of the world is both necessary and possible and the key factor is our concept of people or persons.
Stratman argues that both capitalism and communism have failed because of their false view of the human person and the oversimplification of human development within the economic framework.
The possibility of revolutionary change or transformation lies not in the political leaders or the economic managers of nations and societies but in the hands of ordinary people who in their day to day life try to create a better world for themselves and their families.
These are the parents who day in, day out get out of bed in the morning, prepare their children and themselves for school and work, suffer through the traffic and poor mass transport, do a hard and honest day’s work, and plough through the traffic again to be with family.
These are the ordinary people, the majority of the population of our societies who work hard daily to provide for their loved ones—if not a comfortable life then a decent one; if not a decent one then enough to survive.
In his book, Stratman cites the story of the famous Christmas Truce of 1914. Five months into World War I, English, French and German troops decided—disobeying their superiors—to put down their arms, cross enemy lines and fraternize around, if not on, Christmas day.
The unofficial ceasefire on the Western Front saw enemies eating together, exchanging souvenirs as gifts and even singing Christmas carols. One of the most memorable images of this Christmas Truce was men from warring sides playing football together.
In the years that followed, this spontaneous desire, choice and action for peace and brotherhood were quelled by the high command of both sides, strictly prohibiting any form of fraternization.
Yes, we can change the world and the change can and must come from us, the ordinary citizens of this world who work hard to make our world better.
In the Gospel for the midnight Mass, the good news of the Saviour’s birth was first announced by the angels to the shepherds in the field, these ordinary people at work.
In the midst of a worldwide wave of anxiety over violence and terrorism, and populist movements reversing decades of advances in human rights, gender equality and brotherhood among races, we go back to this first Christmas night—the night when God assured us, “Do not be afraid,” the night when humanity first heard one of the key messages of Christmas, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Perhaps it will not be too much to ask one another that on Christmas day, today, we pray for the grace of the Christmas Truce. Not just pray, but bring our own personal journeys and struggles in the day to day to the manger to offer to the Infant Jesus this desire, choice and action to make our world better.
After the frenetic weeks of preparations, traffic, office/ school celebrations, Simbang Gabi, reunions and parties, we quiet down and pray for the Christmas Truce first in our heart and soul, then in our communities and societies.
Yes, we can change the world. Christmas assures us it is possible and gives us the grace to do so because it gives us a new vision of humanity in the Infant Jesus who is Emmanuel, God with us. Our humanity is joined to Christ in the manger and this makes all the difference.
The Letter of Paul to Titus, the second reading of the Midnight Mass, is a beautiful prayer to end our prayer for the Christmas Truce: “Beloved: The grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people as his own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2: 11-14)
Listen to the song of the angels in your heart and soul, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”