Silent Night

This year marks the anniversary of Silent Night, written and then composed to music two hundred years ago.  The history of Silent Night is making the rounds on various media this holiday season, so I won’t re-write it here, save for this brief Wikipedia intro: “Silent Night” (German: “Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht”) is a popular Christmas carol, composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber to lyrics by Joseph Mohr in the small town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria.

It’s Christmas Eve in New Hampshire.  The nest if full, if only for the briefest of times, the presents are under the tree, the plans are made.  2018 was a tough year in so many ways, and many people who were with us at Christmas last year aren’t here this Christmas Eve.  Best to make peace with yourself and your neighbors on this holiest of days.

Austria is calling me.  Vienna and Salzburg keep popping up in my life.  I work for a company based out of Salzburg and the whole Sound of Music connection to Stowe, Vermont (Trapp Family Lodge) has lingered in my imagination for some time.  Vienna is the title of a Billy Joel song that keeps reminding me that Vienna waits for you.  The Geography of Genius and Cultural Amnesia have both informed me of Vienna’s place in our cultural history and the fragility of Humanism and Intellectualism in the face of the rise of Nazi Germany.

A popular bumper sticker this year seems to be the “Resist” slogan.  It’s a reaction to Trump and white supremacist groups feeling the courage to crawl out of the rock they live under in the last two years.  Trump is testing our democracy and the Rule of Law like no other President in American history.  So resist, but know your history and what happens when you don’t resist.  Blindly following a religious, political or military leader has consequences often not seen until it’s too late.  The best defense is strength and knowledge.

On Christmas Eve, most of us want peace of Earth and goodwill toward men.  Looking back one hundred years to the meat grinder that was World War One, it’s easy to see what can happen when we let “leaders” power go unchecked.  When I think of Silent Night I think of the story of the two sides in opposite trenches stopping the fighting on Christmas Eve and singing Silent Night.  The war would grind on and many more would die, but for that brief moment reason and goodwill took over.

Silent Night, Holy Night
Mindful of mankind’s plight
The Lord in Heav’n on high decreed
From earthly woes we would be freed
Jesus, God’s promise for peace.
Jesus, God’s promise for peace.