Mark Koopmans is hosting 50 States of Pray, in the hopes of getting participants from all 50 U.S. states, and some foreign nation-states, to share a little thought, wish, and/or hope about the past and/or future. Though Christmas hasn’t been my holiday for many many years (don’t wish to get into the long story about my family or religious background!), it’s a really lovely sentiment.
When I think of hopes for the future, I often think of the beautiful Slovenian national anthem. I’ve always found it very moving how, unlike many other national anthems, the Slovenes didn’t choose something proclaiming their country as the best country in the world, or with military overtures. Instead, it’s all about peace.
It’s the seventh stanza of “Zdravljica” (“A Toast”), written by France Prešeren, Slovenia’s national poet:
Žive naj vsi narodi
ki hrepene dočakat’ dan,
da koder sonce hodi,
prepir iz sveta bo pregnan,
prost bo vsak,
ne vrag, le sosed bo mejak!
God’s blessing on all nations,
Who long and work for that bright day,
When o’er earth’s habitations
No war, no strife shall hold its sway;
Who long to see
That all people free
No more shall foes, but neighbours be!
This spirit of universal friendship was typified in the 1914 Christmas Truce, which sadly was never allowed to happen again. It was hard for these soldiers to go back to fighting after coming to see the other side as human beings, friends. I highly recommend the film Joyeux Noël to people of all faiths and nationalities. We all have it in us to break down the boxes and walls separating us, and to simply love one another as fellow Earthlings made in God’s image. I see myself as a citizen of Planet Earth first, and only then an American and a transplanted Pennsylvanian living in New York.