Monday, November 9, 2009

Celebrating Collapsing Walls

Today, leaders from all over the planet gather in Berlin to celebrate 20 years since the dismantling of the wall that separated east from west Germany.

This occasion prompts me to look deeply at the world in general to see what other walls, visible and invisible, need to come down before we can consider ourselves truly free.

In my own country, Ireland, there is one city which still has walls dividing Republican from Unionist communities. Belfast rather shamefully calls the walls 'Peace Lines'. They imagine that keeping people apart with buffer zones will eventually lead to a day when diverse communities can respectfully co-exist. I don't agree. Maybe as a short-term, temporary solution, walls may be helpful. But walls also create cultural inertia. The short-term becomes long-term and nothing much changes behind those walls. Peace remains elusive. Fear and distrust reign supreme.

There are dividing walls all over the world disguising themselves as social and economic norms. These less-visible walls are, in many cases, even longer lasting than bricks and mortar. The 'haves' and the 'have-nots' remain separate and those with all the power wish to keep it that way.

Look at China and India for example. The vast majority of the world's population live there. Their way of life illustrates my point perfectly. The economic and political reality there is based on the richer ruling class and the poorer working class remaining apart. Let's be honest, it is extremely uncomfortable to be face to face with the very people we must condemn to slave labour in order to build our own personal empire. China is building its future on this principle and India is not far behind them. And let's not forget that India still clings to the ancient caste system whose glass walls divide and stratify her enormous population into more manageable, controllable battalions of workers.

Looking at the various walls that divide us on a more global scale, we become ever-more mindful of the fakeness of borders themselves. They are man-made afterall and are usually the direct result of wars in which vast numbers of young men were forced to their deaths in the pursuit of ideals driven by fear and greed. In the early history of the human race, if life wasn't working out for you in one place, you just marched off to a better place - even as far as another continent altogether. But now, thanks to borders and confederations, human beings are nolonger free to move about and live where they need to be.

Every night on the TV news we watch Africans and Asians perish in hostile environments they cannot escape. They are not free to migrate [despite the fact their original trans-migrations first populated the entire world. We are their children!]

We don't want them or their different ways over here, dragging our struggling cocoon down the tube. We can't have people just living anywhere they want! ... Can we?
Without borders, the planet would just be reduced to utter chaos! ... Wouldn't it?

Anyway ... sorry for banging on about all this. But it's a blog ... That's what it's for!

I remember - speaking of Walls - when i was a young child my mother gave me some Wall's ice-cream on one of those scorching late summer's days we used to have in Ireland before we ruined the planet.
As i savoured the first spoonful, Mammy told me to really enjoy it because there were children all over the world who wouldn't be having any ice-cream.

Completely missing the whole point, i thought to myself -
Oh, how kind of them! Those lovely children are not having any ice-cream just so I can have some.

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