THIS IS A MEDITATION ON CEASEFIRES. 2018 marked 100 years since the signing of the Armistice of 11 November 1918, the truce that ended the fighting of the First World War. That's something worth commemorating, isn't it? It's appropriate to remember such a sobering period in history and to honor those who sacrificed—including especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice—for the cause of peace.
And yet. The terms imposed by the Armistice (and related agreements), in hindsight, seem to have made inevitable the eruption of the Second World War. In short, the "War to End All Wars" wasn't. Ceasefire? Yes. Lasting peace? No—and still no.
The Columbine High School shooting of 1999, which occurred during my own final year of high school, was the first time the words "school" and "shooting" were joined in my mind. And now, 20 years later, in the wake of scores of similar events, recently in Parkland, FL and Santa Fe, TX, the phrase is as commonplace as "school lunch."
What is peace, really? Is it only the "sudden silence after clamour" because, for the moment, all the shooters have been shot? Or is it substantive in itself, something purposefully constructed and renewed by the practice of love? Is it attainable in a community? Between nations?
Eleanor Farjeon's two-sonnet sequence, entitled "Peace," asks this profoundly apolitical question, which sadly remains as relevant now as it was in 1918. Which of us, she asks, will, during moments of peace, "shout the name of love" to prevent the next shooting, the next War to End All Wars?
This piece unfolds in three short movements, the latter two performed attacca. Because it is written to help commemorate WWI (or a related conflict or loss), during the second movement, singers are invited (at the discretion of the director) to speak the names of those who are to be remembered (for example, their closest kin to serve). In my case, I would say "James Harrison" (my great-grandmother's brother, who served in France).
May you and I "shout the name of love" even, and especially, during times of relative peace as we work towards a lasting ceasefire. —Andrew Maxfield