2/20/18

Tear down the walls!

One of my colleagues who grew up in the German Democratic Republic recently described how the wall in Berlin was a big part of her childhood. She walked along it on her way to school, she saw it every time she went out to play and passing it when going on vacation was always a gamble due to the unpredictable guards.

Photo: Wikimedia commons

I grew up in Sweden so I did not see the wall when I grew up - but I knew about it. We all did. And many of us got used to it, and somehow thought it would always be there.

I still remember the surge of happiness I felt when finally, in 1989, the "wall of shame" was opened and later completely removed. The world was going in the right direction!

Before the Berlin wall came down, about 11 nations had border walls. How many nations do you think have walls today? I am sorry to give you an answer that - if you react like I did when I heard the statistic - will sadden you.
Today some 70 (!) nations have put up border walls or fences. (According to the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei in an interview in TIME).
Are we moving in the wrong direction? Or is this just a result of some politicians having lost their way, while most of us still see the madness of putting walls between human beings?

The French artist JR created a piece of art, an installation, with a picnic on both sides of the US-Mexican border. The picnic table was a canvas with a large photo of the eyes of a young and undocumented immigrant called Mayra.


JR described the event like this:
“The table goes through the wall, and the people eat the same food and drink the same water and listen to the same music. For a minute we were forgetting about it, passing salt and water and drinks as if there were no wall.”
We know that fences will never successfully keep people apart. And they will for sure not protect anyone. Pink Floyd showed us that long ago, in their rock opera The Wall. Reuben Tasker describes the moral of the story like this:
Though there will almost always be personal and social barriers erected out of fear, oppression, pain, and isolation, it’s the job of every socially conscious individual and community to never rest in tearing down the walls that separate us.
Lets tear down the walls!

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