Some people fully embrace magic as their way of life, whereas others only encounter magic in certain places, through particular people or on exceptional occasions. Globally-speaking, Christmas is the season where magic is more apparent than at any other time of year and right now, the world is in dire need of fairy dust…

Barely a week ago, New Zealand switched on the red traffic light. During 100+ days of the hard yards lockdown in Auckland, many everyday occupations halted. Freedom was eagerly anticipated under traffic lights, at least for those holding a vaccine pass. How unfortunate the kiwi reality has not lived up to expectations.

During the last seven days, divisions have rapidly cemented. Where barriers, restrictions and pressure existed before, penalties, censorship and humiliation have taken over. Worse, covert influences now mean overt alienation and public shaming seems to be the new accountability measure.

On the other hand, there’s also a dawning realisation that pandemic problems can no longer be attributed to a small, troublesome portion of the population. Suddenly, everyone finds themselves affected and the issue running rampant belongs to us all. Fear has gripped the nation. Among those who considered themselves free to access all privileges, many are running scared. And everyone else has been obliged to reassess their liberty in order to accommodate the fearful. Infighting has not stopped at the red light; instead challenges are perpetuating.

How many will notice irony in the fact we celebrate Human Rights Day on Friday 10th December? Let’s hope this paradox incites the true spirit of Christmas in all humanity, especially those looking to history for their inspiration. On 7th December 1914, Pope Benedict XV spoke up to propose a truce in the conflict which had begun five months prior. World leaders did not embrace his idea to end the Great War which embroiled most nations of Europe along with Russia, the United States, the Middle East, and others.

Yet, foot soldiers on the ground somehow lowered their arms to take up the concept. From Christmas Eve to Boxing Day in 1914, there was a series of widespread, unofficial, impromptu ceasefires in the trenches along the Western Front. Fighting men from both sides met in No Man’s Land to share food and play football. Some exchanged gifts, while others honoured their fallen in joint burial ceremonies.

There were no court martials as a result of this lull in hostilities and this exceptional act of truce never happened again, even though the First World War continued until 1918. Yet history tells the tale…something magical took place, which engendered thereafter a ‘live and let live’ system in many areas of warfare. How was this possible?

Perhaps an inspired moment of mutual acknowledgement that we will never all be on the same side and perspectives will continue to differ. Nevertheless, everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, and belief, including the right to adopt and to hold opinions without interference. This leaves the door open for the shared spirit of Christmas, which is something greater than us all, to unite us.

Many kiwis are actively seeking another way. Plenty of others are aware the current situation must change, because its inevitable direction and full implications affect every individual, even if this is not immediately apparent. At Happinessence, we are obsessed with the invisible behaviour patterns inside people, at the heart of businesses and buried deep in operational systems. Almost two years battling a global pandemic has exerted intense pressure on these silent workings.

Pandemic exhaustion has left the kiwi team of five million bleeding and impossibly overstretched. Must we continue to chase preposterous numbers, or will we rise up from the trenches and come together to make meaning….bringing hope, love and understanding to all men? After all, history calls us all to account, with many blatant reminders that each of us must accept responsibility before any of us can place blame.