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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Mayfield, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

Is Peace on Earth possible? If we share goodwill on common ground.

A globe sits in holly surrounded by the words Peace on Earth Goodwill to all

Christmas Eve. 1914. The Western Front. A world at war.

Have you heard the story of what happened that night? There are many versions of the Christmas Eve Truce. One thing is certain – it happened. It is not a myth or a fairy tale.

Some say it started with singing the German carol, Silent Night. A song well-known to soldiers on both sides. Possibly the words reminded them of what they had in common. Maybe they were more alike than different. For one thing, all were tired of war.

Tens of thousands of soldiers put down their arms, emerged from their muddy trenches, and found common ground with their enemies – singing Christmas carols, playing soccer, and sharing food and goodwill.

Finding common ground brings peace.

A truth embedded in the story of the Christmas Eve Truce holds true today and that is the importance of finding common ground. Discovering what we share and what we agree on rather than focusing on our differences and disagreements.

Who are you “at war” with this season? Maybe not with weapons of war, but in other ways… Not seeing eye-to-eye in how to handle a situation, or an inability to compromise, or holding a grudge that neither is willing to let go.

You might be surprised to learn that there is a “no man’s land” where you share common ground. What do you have in common? A shared memory? A shared motive? A shared personal or professional goal?

When working with others, a critical first step is finding common ground. It is where rapport is built, and open communication becomes possible.

Can we create an encore of the Christmas Eve Truce?

If we are to create peace on Earth this holiday season, we must identify our common ground, use it as a foundation upon which to build rapport, and with empathy and understanding, communicate hope, peace, and love to a world in despair, at war, and filled with hate.

To identify our common ground with those we disagree with on matters related to nutrition, we can determine to agree that food is more than nutrients and that many dietary patterns lead to health. We can honor one another’s preferences and opinions.

To build rapport, we can ask others to share their experiences, their values, and their dreams. We can seek to understand what it’s like to be them. We can listen more than we speak. We can affirm their feelings and their fears.

We can demonstrate empathy and communicate understanding, with words such as, “Your situation seems really challenging. You are to be commended for your patience and professionalism.”

Similarly, we can ask others to come alongside us. When we share the burdens of others, the load is lighter for all.

Peace on Earth. Goodwill to all.

At this magical time of year, we can all do our part to find common ground and share goodwill to all. These words, proclaimed by the angels, were recorded in the account of the first Christmas in Luke 2. We can sing them today… Peace on Earth, Goodwill to all.

“Touch the earth, speak of love, walk on common ground.” ~ Steven Van Zandt

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