Oh hush the noise, ye men of strife

Night fell a couple of hours ago. The shops are closing. Celia and Charlie have left for Brighton. Octavia is in Yorkshire. In the block of flats where I live, only a handful of residents are at home, and in the section where my flat is, only my lovely neighbours opposite and I are here for Christmas. We’ve decorated our shared landing and exchanged gifts.
Inside, I have candles and fairy lights, tinsel that has so far survived MasterB’s interest, clean sheets, and parcels piled up on the table. Nanci Griffith’s voice fills the air from an old cassette tape.
I am feeling Christmassy, but not Christmassy enough to play CDS of carols. Anyway, I have managed to miswire the CD player of the stereo and sorting it out is beyond me right now.
Last night I followed my Sunday-before-Christmas habit of attending the Nine Lessons and Carols at St Bartholomew the Great’s. There church is beautiful, the choir is superb, and yet again the story of the babe born in a manger got to me with the promise of peace on earth, goodwill to all men. And women. As usual the first reading where Eve, and by extension all women, carries the can for the expulsion from Eden, annoyed me, so maybe that’s why I sang the line in It came upon the midnight clear ‘Oh hush the noise ye men of strife’ with particular energy. Or maybe it’s because the men of strife are increasingly flexing their muscles and making the world a smaller, more dangerous place for the rest of us and the animals and plants with whom we share it. Women, children, the poor, the weak and the vulnerable; all the people we were asked to pray for at the start of the service.
I am not religious. I do not have belief, but the Christmas story is one of hope, one of redemption and perhaps it can serve as a reminder that we do not have continue along paths we know are harmful to others and ourselves. We can hush our noise, we can stop the rush to oblivion which is climate crisis; we can stand up for the victims and cast tyrants adrift. Children in Yemen need not starve to death; the oceans do not need to fill with yet more plastic; fossil fuels do not need to burn; the rain forest can still breathe for us. We do have choices.
Saturday’s Guardian had two pieces I’d like to draw your attention to. One by Jonathan Freedland, the other by Frankie Boyle.
Let’s hear the angels sing.
Merry Christmas.


6 thoughts on “Oh hush the noise, ye men of strife

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