Peace On Earth - Good Will To All


Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

Jan 01, 2011 GMT
Jon maddog Hall


The last day of the year is here. At an hour when a lot of people are out partying and “ringing in the New Year” I am sitting here with a glass of wine and taking a bit of quiet time to reflect on what happened last year and what might happen next year. If you are reading this hoping to learn something about FOSS or Free Software, and will be disappointed if you do not learn to grep or pipe from this blog entry, perhaps you should stop reading now.


Some things are certain, the sages tell us, like death and taxes. Certainly there have been a lot of both this year, and there will be plenty of both next year.


On the death scene, one of my former Boy Scout leaders died last June and I did not know about it until the yearly holiday greeting card arrived with only his wife's name on it. I am still recovering from the shock, as he was one of those people you felt would be there “forever”. Fortunately for my psyche I had actually kept in touch over the years via postcards from my travels, so both he and his wife knew that I thought about them often. His death did set my mind thinking about all the other people who have meant a lot to me in the past (and still mean a lot to me) with whom I have lost touch.


Governments seem to be so adept at bringing us both death (in the form of war), and taxes to help pay for those wars. This, by the way, is neither praise or condemnation of any particular government, including mine, but exasperation that governments in general which are supposedly run by adult human beings still revert to killing to settle conflicts.


It was thirty-one years and three days ago that a young friend of mine was killed in the invasion of Panama. Each year in this season I think about what his life would have been like if he had not died there. He was smart, friendly, good looking and would definitely have been a good engineer or almost anything else he wanted to be. His death saved another squad of men, but in my mind they never should have been there.


A good New Year's resolution would be to contact more of the people I know and have known to let them know how much they meant and continue to mean to my life.


On another front I received news today that good friends of mine have recently had a baby girl, and they sent me a picture of her. Cute, cute, cute.


Hopefully the economy will improve world wide and more people will have jobs. I have long felt that we will never have peace in the world until all people can feel that they have a meaningful life and meaningful work with meaningful income is part of that. My observation is that almost every (if not EVERY) war has been fought for economic reasons. Some people will argue that wars have been fought to rid a country of a bad dictator or to deliver the obscure concept of “freedom”, but even major conflicts like World War II had its roots deep in economic issues, and the American Revolution rallying cry was “Taxation without representation”. The Constitution of the United States was first ratified as a means to unite the thirteen colonies for economic reasons, with the first ten amendments to it becoming known as the “Bill of Rights”.


As I have traveled the world for the past thirty-five years I have gone to countries that were once thought of as our bitter enemies, and are now trading partners. When I talk with the people on the street, the “Mothers and Fathers”, their concerns are always the same:

  • a good life for themselves
  • a better life for their children
  • to be left alone by the government

Now these people do not want to be totally without government. They acknowledge that government sometimes does good things like building and repairing roads, helping out in natural disasters or regulating safety concerns. People look to government, both local and country-wide, to set and enforce laws that protect us all, and (in what I would consider a perfect world) laws that are applied equally to everyone.


This time of year you hear a phrase:


Peace On Earth, Good Will To All Men


I would change that slightly, and make it simply:


Peace On Earth, Good Will to All


“Peace On Earth” is self-explanatory, as most of us can understand what that would mean. No war. No strife. No murders. No theft. Nothing that disturbs “Peace”.


“Good Will” is a little harder, both to understand, and perhaps to deliver. To me it means that I would wish the best for the other person, to understand the other person. To not hate the other person.


I found that when I talked to the person on the street, I almost universally liked them. It did not make any difference if they were black, white, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, young, old, male, female, heterosexual, homosexual.....they were people. And while I admit to liking some people more than others, they all deserved “good will”.


So here is my New Year's wish. It is very simple:


Peace on Earth, Good Will to All.


  • peace on earth

    I have always believed the motivation behind the Linux/Unix culture from the very beginning was to improve communication. Linux builds our networks, builds vast communities, and solves unknowns and differences with knowledge. The openness we enjoy is the best gift that keeps giving. We do live in exciting times. May our future generations enjoy the unlimited benefits of our wishes for peace and prosperity.
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