Over by Christmas

and the war is sure to be over by christmas.
that’s what all of the young recruits said,
as they gaily marched off to the opening battle.
that war was soon over – at least for the dead.
ah, wars end so quickly, at least for the dead.

so we swear that we’ll never go through that again.
but when they wave the old flags, and condemn the new crimes,
and our leaders assure us there’s no other choice,
then we join in the clamor for war, one more time.
we help feed the frenzy for war, one last time.

we fight for our homelands, we fight for our gods.
we fight for our freedom, and for all that is right.
we fight for our families, our neighbors and friends.
one could almost believe that we welcome a fight.
can it possibly be that we just love to fight?

no, that can’t be true, for we’re peace-loving people!
we never would start an unprovoked fight.
we will not go to war without a just reason.
is it our fault so many things threaten our rights?
yes, someone is always attacking our rights!

and the enemy’s never the least bit like we are.
they’re barbaric, inhuman, bloodthirsty and vile!
we cannot understand them, they must not value life,
to kill mothers and babies with a sneer and a smile.
we’re appalled, when they kill with a sneer and a smile.

how can we believe all these obvious lies,
if we are as smart as we like to pretend?
though we know our own children may be maimed or killed,
still we send them to war, again and again.
yes, we still go to war, again and again.

once again, this must surely be wrapped up by christmas.
each new war seems different, yet always the same,
with the cheerful delusion of quick, easy triumph.
the war’s never over, we just change its name.
we make war without end, but we do change the names.

oh when will we conquer our hatred and fear,
outgrow childish greed, and instead learn to give?
if we won’t work together for justice and peace,
then maybe our species has no right to live.
could it be that we humans have no right to live?

it will never be easy to prove that’s not true,
but we surely can struggle to share, not destroy!
with but half of the effort we put into war,
we might all live in harmony, freedom and joy.
don’t we long for that unity, freedom and joy?

yet there’s such power and gain from perpetual war,
that we’ll never know peace if we just wish and wait.
it will take all our courage, commitment and strength,
but we must never stop trying, it’s not yet too late!
we can still change our world, before it’s too late!


About l. l. frederick

I'm pretty ordinary, so I find any number of things in the world interesting, among them: books, music, flowers, food, social justice, politics and (sometimes!) people. As for my writing, I've decided that I can be subtle and tasteful when our only problems are esthetic ones. Or when I'm dead, whichever comes first. In the meantime, read at your own risk.
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5 Responses to Over by Christmas

  1. Linda, this is such a powerful poem! (I’m grateful I took the time this morning to explore and found this treasure. Sadly, your insights are as relevant and true today as they were when you first posted this…)

    • Carol, As always, you are most kind. I keep thinking I’ll understand people, someday. So far … not a clue: we just seem insane most of the time! Except for you and me, of course. Well, probably just you.
      But even given our “normal” craziness, war is totally beyond my comprehension. What in hell do we keep killing one another for? Maybe it’s a matter of impatience, that we want instant answers to all our problems?
      I’m caring for older relatives now, and I notice my mother seems to respond that way to everything. Granted, she’s in her late 80’s, so time is precious indeed for her, I get that. But … if she sees one bug, she wants to napalm the neighborhood. If she has to run for the bathroom now and then, she gulps down some Imodium … then gripes about constipation the next day. (Sorry if I’m grossing you out, but I feel this demonstrates Mom’s very human lack of patience with natural processes.)
      And tolerance, negotiation, seeking gentler approaches to difficulties — all take time and patience. Things western culture does not seem to teach us, or even value. I do hope we’ll learn to use our brains, and notice that what we’re doing isn’t working for us, so … maybe, just maybe … we should try something different. Thank you as always for your comment. – Linda

      • I have often pondered the question “why war?” I don’t have any answers. I think of the young child soldiers who are subjected to unimaginable brutality, the young “lower class” men (and now women) who have ever been cannon fodder for the wealthy elite who benefited from wars and their aftermath. I can understand their reason – simple survival. But what of those who are marginally privileged – those who are cleverly indoctrinated to believe in competition, survival of the fittest, and the myth of meritocracy. Taught competitive sports rather than logic, art, and music. Rewarded for winning football battles rather than debates. “Winner-take-all” competition is the essential building-block for every hierarchical social institution.

        It does make one weary and it’s so easy to for one to “lose heart.” It’s why I love the name of your blog. 🙂

      • I neglected to add how much I admire you for being a caregiver. It’s such a crucial and difficult responsibility. I send you hugs. ❤

        • Thanks for the hugs, always appreciated! But I’m caregiver by default, certainly not from aptitude … I’m constantly shocked, and chagrined, by just how little patience I have with these people I love, even knowing the infirmities and frustrations they must live with. Such a bad Linda!
          So … I’m afraid I don’t live up to my blog name — borrowed from an old album (what else?) that I’ve liked for 40-odd years. Need to work on that!
          Competition? It’s pandemic! Cooking shows were once my choice for tension-free TV, something restful, and a chance to learn new techniques and foods. But now, they all seem nasty and combative, with even children contending for prizes. I’m rather surprised they’re not actually called ‘hunger games’. Between endless, wretched commercials, vicious political ads, propaganda and sensationalism passing for news, shows glorifying the rich, the military, law enforcement, and business, and so-called real people fighting and insulting one another nonstop, it’s no sacrifice to skip the tube these days.
          Come to think of it, it’s a wonder people are still remotely sane and human, given so much relentless conditioning to make us all callous, compliant little cogs of capitalism and empire! And maybe that stubborn spark of reason and kindness gives us hope, a place to begin the changes we need in our selves and our world.

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