The Great Berlin Wall is down! Everyone was ecstatic and while many cheered and roared with jubilation, there were those who wept. Why? Because their dark world was free but the psychological impact would never quite be extinguished. Fear of being imprisoned again would haunt their lives forever despite it being over…
Or was it?
As Berlin began to rebuild, to embrace, to mend the hearts and economic stagnation that had permeated for decades, rumblings were erupting elsewhere. New walls are being built across the world, and no one seems to care. Ukraine has said it will be building a mote and wall around the entire country! Israel is planning to build a wall between them and Jordan. Hungary is contemplating building a wall to protect them from unwanted immigrants.
But will these walls stave off what these countries fear?
Historically, walls date back to the Trojans in which the Romans deployed all their armed forces to guard the wall only to have it breached with the gift of the Trojan horse. While walls have had certain success, their sustainability is compromised by a multitude of factors and variables – including technology and changing benevolence. In addition, where there is a wall there are those who develop means to breach its barriers. That is human nature.
Today, walls are everywhere; Gaza and Israel, Egypt and Gaza, India and Pakistan, US and Mexico, North Korea vs the South, Bulgaria and Turkey, Spain and Morocco, the wall of Cyprus dividing north from south, the Catholic vs Protestant wall of Ireland… Walls abound throughout our world and yet no one demands they come down. Why?
Saudi Arabia is already well on its way in building a 600 mile wall between itself and Iraq. No one condemns this wall, no country is outraged, no government rejects this division because it is defined to ‘protect’ not to imprison. Really? A wall by the fact that it exists is a form of imprisonment however justified – Communists build walls to imprison, Socialists build walls to protect… And that, my fellow citizens, is a manipulation of thought.
Do they work? Does the wall actually change the behavior of the supposed trespasser, or is it merely a psychological tool?
In reality, walls perhaps deter the weaker, such as women and children, but they have little impact on those driven by fear and survival. An immigrant facing a brutal death will brave the rage of the seas – do you think a wall is even remotely an obstacle in such circumstances? I doubt it. And therein lies the second stage.
A wall, in order to be effective requires military manning, a consequence of being shot. So now the true nature of the wall is revealed. It is a wall of death.
When we lived in East Berlin before the wall was built, we moved about freely, our presence was not mired in fear. By the time Checkpoint Charley was manned and machine guns followed our car as we very slowly drove away it was the military that we feared, not the wall, it was the variable of instant death.
In psychology, walls create barriers to trust and relationship. They cause a person to be unable to disassociate one kind of person from another as they focus on the large picture instead of the individual picture. While creating an initial protection, they end up creating a virtual prison.
While walls are built to divide, the division is already a reality, the wall is merely a symbol that confirms what exists. It then becomes an extension of internal feelings that won’t be extinguished until there is a change of heart.
In the meantime, walls are everywhere – 47 worldwide. While the fall of the Berlin Wall was hugely symbolic, more walls continue to rise as we seek to divide and alienate without resolution of the cause.