The idea of a big strong concrete wall was espoused to protect Americans. It may seem like ages ago now, but I’m pretty sure you remember it. Build a wall, he said, then we’ll be safe!
This is the opposite of what we heard about 30 years ago when Ronald Reagan said, “We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together… General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity… if you seek liberalization… open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
And there was, “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.” So which is it? Protection or Prosperity? Are we going backwards?
My theory is a wall doesn’t do much good for the forward movement of humanity. An isolationist strategy has rarely worked, and especially in today’s ever-connected “world is flat” mentality, we cannot expect to remain separate. We are not separate, we are not different. But I know that concept, more than any other, is a hard pill for most of us to swallow.
We spend most of lives building our personal walls. As humans we keep trying. Lots of walls continue to be erected all over the world, trying to keep some group of people out and some people in. What is it John Lennon said? “Imagine there’s no countries, nothing to kill or die for?” Not because we are well-versed in positive outcomes, but because building walls gives us the illusion of safety and it’ll never, ever work.
Taking down the Berlin Wall was done to enhance change and openness, and to advance the cause of freedom and peace; not to separate one group who thought they might be a “better and safer” population than another. Zoe Gardner, a spokesperson for Asylum Aid, said, “Fences and Walls are nothing more than expensive screens we use to try to conceal our problems from view. Certainly, [walls] make it harder… to reach safety, but they cannot remove the hope that motivates the journey.”
So look around (as I usually urge you to do…). How big and strong are your walls? What do you keep out so it won’t hurt? What or who do you let it? Walls never work as they are intended to. They never really keep us safe, but they will always keep us from something that we might otherwise really love.
And there will always come a gap. And we get to choose how quickly we want to gum up that hole. If we’re operating from fear, our fill will be swift and dense until another gap-portunity appears.
If we come face to face with that opening and decide – because we always get to decide – to peek through and examine what’s in there we might see or feel something quite wonderful. We get umpteen times in this life to widen the gap and open ourselves up.
If we depend on the wall, we will never know for sure if all the bad is kept out and all the safe goodness is kept inside. We will never know if there was goodness to be had that we never experienced.
What we need to take down an internal wall is very likely something we don’t feel comfortable with. Do we have enough integrity to explore it? Can we become vulnerable and forgiving? Can we use the gratitude for what we have to stave off being uncomfortable? Courage for this work is defined as feeling uncomfortable and going ahead anyway.
Those abilities rest inside each of us until we decide to tell them it’s OK to come out. Our work here needs our strength so: Find Your Wall. Be Strong. Ernest Hemingway said, “Courage is grace under pressure.” Let’s think about more grace as we peacefully mend our walls