Effect Measure

Afghanistan: both ends of the rifle

A Christmas tradition in the Revere household is that I make Mrs. R. cry by playing this beautiful song by John McCutcheon about the Christmas truce of 1914. It’s 2009 and bitter cold in the trenches of Afghanistan.

The Reveres, Christmas Eve, 2009


  1. #1 Paula
    December 23, 2009

    Thanks, Revere. Even the stills of this video say it all. And we have to keep up hope.
    In the first week of Nov. 2008 I felt the joy of a potential political change for the better–after all, standard Democrat or not, Obama was black and had developed some coalition connections with the Left–but from the moment of the appointment of centrist White House advisors, it became clear we’d have little desirable change. And, this year, the hoped-for changes have seemed farther and farther away, the disasters faster and faster.
    In personal life, I like many others now confront a man-induced ecological threat to this silent and pastoral environment, from wind turbines deemed appriate to raise county monies as it struggles in the economic ruins derived from the pirates’ sell-off of mid-2008.
    In Afghanistan, and already in Pakistan, we must watch people’s lives destroyed, people killed–yes, another Vietnam indeed. And prisoners still held without trial after 9 years.
    And in our public health. . . yeah. But at least the NY Times now has finally–finally, and curiously just as it becomes too late to avoid, e.g. through single-payer, having to make Medicare cuts to pay for a few remnant shreds of health-coverage reform–the NY Times finally ! has noticed that the Dartmouth studies, by focusing solely on the last 2 years of people’s lives, could not in the least prove that high intensivity of care gives no better results than low intensivity. Congratulations seem in order for Dr. Rosenthal and his UCLA colleagues for studying and pointing out this discrepancy, and for the NY Times reporter who dared to cover the full story.

  2. #2 slovenia
    December 24, 2009

    Makes me cry every year too.

  3. #3 anon
    December 24, 2009

    that was in 1914, but was followed the next years was very bloody.
    Real peace isn’t made with the heart but rather with the head.
    What was the reason for that war, which noone really wanted ?
    Just an unlucky chain of plans, mobilizations and ultimatums.
    Why were the early peace talks unsuccessful ? I’ll never understand.

  4. #4 Granny Sue
    December 24, 2009

    Thanks, that was moving and thoughtful. But, “We Shall Overcome” is the song that has me sobbing everytime.

  5. #5 caia
    December 25, 2009

    Thank you for this.

    I learned more about the Christmas Truce(s) in Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century, including how in some cases the soldiers had to be threatened with disciplinary action to go back to fighting; how they’d warn one another that a higher-up would be coming around at 3 o’clock and they’d have to shell a given place on the “enemy” line.

  6. #6 Paula
    December 25, 2009

    Granny Sue–agreed. We Shall Overcome is the song that righteously should be the national anthem.

  7. #7 anon
    December 26, 2009

    but, don’t you Americans recognize, that “we shall overcome”
    calls for prolonged fighting and not for truce,compromise ?
    Scientists know even less about who shall overcome (or not) than
    they know about influenza.

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