This week I was traveling on a long international flight. Usually my flying routine is sleep, eat and watch movies. The airline had a good selection, especially documentaries. So, I watched a short documentary about the fall of Berlin Wall in November of 1989.
It brought back lots of memories and a flood of emotions. I was just a teenager during those days and followed this world breaking news from Latvia, hoping with all my heart that the same power of change would transform my own nation. And it did!
I think about walls often. There are a few walls that come to my mind immediately. The Great Wall of China (which I have visited), the Berlin Wall (which I hope to visit one day… the part that is left as a reminder) , the Israeli Wall in the West Bank (which I hope will come down one day soon), the big border fences/walls on the US-Mexico border and the EU border in Greece… Just to name a few walls that are meant to keep people apart.
Some build prisons to keep people in; others build fortresses to keep people out. Like the Great Wall of China built to keep the invaders out. But most walls have two sides and it depends on which side you live. Like the Berlin Wall which was supposed to keep out the ‘fascists’ and ‘capitalists’ from the West. Only nobody from the West would risk their lives to climb this wall; the desperate attempts were made by people from the East side of the wall who felt like were living in a prison.
I watched again the scenes of people collapsing on the ground and crying when they had escaped to West Germany… People running through the barbed wire and not caring if they get injured. And then the amazing scenes of Berlin Wall coming down and people rejoicing and celebrating and embracing and crying… The wall that separated families and nation and people for decades coming down without any violence or single shot.
I remember in my own country Latvia how the Baltic beach was considered an invisible wall. The border of Soviet Union to protect us from those ‘capitalists’. The beach sand was raked, so that anyone trying to cross the sea would leave footprints… We all knew if anyone even tried which way the footprints would point. In USSR we built prisons…
The Wall in the West Bank is called ‘separation’ fence or ‘security’ fence in the Hebrew and the wall of ‘apartheid’ in Arabic. It depends which side of the wall you live or what you think in your heart – is it to keep people out or keep people in?
In Europe, we build our fences to keep people ‘out’. Those we don’t want. We build fortresses…
These are the visible walls, but what about the invisible ones? I keep discovering them in my own heart. To dismantle a wall we start by removing one brick, one stone, one block at a time. So, I will start with myself because I don’t want to be just another brick in the wall.