Sunday, 11 March 2012

Walls, Fences and Boxes

“A separation barrier is a wall or fence constructed to limit the movement of people across a certain line or border, or to separate two populations.”  The Great Wall of China, Hadrian’s Wall, the Berlin Wall and the US-Mexico border fence; over the centuries human beings have been building barriers, to keep each other either out of, or locked in, their sovereign territories.

The fact that 24 countries have or are in the process of building fences, shows that this centuries old,  global custom is not about to disappear soon. Over the centuries one of the main purposes of border walls and fences has been to prevent those from politically, economically and socially weak states, entering countries with a stronger democratic, financial and humane environment. Walls or borders are always contested, inspiring radically different responses. Either you side with the walls and their safety by compromising your freedom, or you side with bringing the walls down with unknown consequences. The wall is either a welcome separation from whatever is beyond the barrier, or it is a scar on the landscape locking those who live around them out of spaces (a better life, educational and health benefits). Walls are also a visual presentation of a false choice or dilemma – it removes the middle ground: you are either with us ( religion, ideology, race) or you are with “them” (the unknown, the unpredictable).

However, barriers won't stop people from wanting a better life; as the thousands that have died proves, they are willing to pay the highest price for the opportunity. Others who have successfully crossed the boundaries tend to quickly accept the economical benefits of their new found freedoms, but find it difficult to be accepted or inter-grate into new customs and thinking's, therefore again building fences and walls, the areas within which are called ghettos.

Which ever side of the fence you stand you are still faced with a catch-22  situation as to which box you belong? Which political party should I follow (if you are allowed to choose)? Which religion, if any, should I follow (if you have any choice in the matter)? These two boxes have caused more violent deaths over the centuries than any other; the fact that the two boxes have imbedded within them thousands of other boxes, doesn’t help the process towards world peace and understanding.

There are over 38'000 Christian denominations; two major Islamic schools of thinking; Judaism is divided into three major sects, and Buddhism into 38, not to mention the thousands of other spiritual beliefs; each one preaching (sometimes with the use of force and violence) that their box is the right one! Political ideologies such as Fascism and Communism did not refrain from the use of terror and mass murder to force the populace into square boxes so tightly sealed that freedom and democracy could not enter. Even today out of 193 countries in the world, at least 33 are being ruled right now by dictators!

Creating boundaries and boxes seems to be a trait that all humans share, and there’s nothing wrong with it, we all need to mark what is ours. It’s when we allow the walls, fences and boxes to destroy our right to say yes or no, our right to a point of view, our right to be free,  that they become prisons and not borders.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent piece Alex, and great tunes as always