I have just read one of our Independent schools ‘A’ level student’s research paper on the Berlin wall. It made me think about the whole subject of walls, particularly as I write, walls and barbered wire are very much in the news.
Supposedly walls should keep us warm and safe, at least if you have roof on your house as well, however as we look though history walls have also had other uses and somehow get into our psyche and it seems to me many times ending up with negative connotation. In fact it seems to me that each time you see walls, proposed walls or building of walls; there is the feeling of failure, loss, or the fact that our world is in a bad place.
I guess the biggest wall of all is the Great Wall of China, built to keep out others who might attack which are why all of the walls seemed to have been built, on the basis we are all right and we don’t want you in or out in some cases so let’s build a wall. In a sense a great symbol of failure as it demonstrates that you need to be controlled, either by being held in or kept out. What it cannot do is control thinking, though those that build the walls, I think, really would like to be able to do that.
So let me just site a few walls to show what I mean. Berlin wall of course was built to keep East Germans from running away to West Berlin and thus loosing its key workers and intelligencer; so really a failure of an ideological way of thinking. Then maybe Hadrian’s Wall, built by the Romans, must represent the failure of the Romans to control the Scottish Nation or to conquer it; so a wall was built to keep the Picts as the Romans called them out. The last standing division or wall in Europe is in Cyprus showing us the failure of politics, religion and ethnicity to get on and work together for peoples best good.
The fact that walls are a strong sign of failure, the world continues to build them and demonstrates to all who can see how useless we are at getting things right. Between 1950 and 2010 the world has built some 50 admissions of failure. In such places as Israel, India, Pakistan, Georgia, South Ossetia, Mexico and the USA a fence sits at the moment but listening to the politics of the USA in 2016 it seems as though this failure need to be reinforced by a proper wall! Then there is India and Bangladesh, North and South Korea, Spain & Morocco and, even in Northern Ireland, ‘Peace Walls’ still celebrate the fact that people fail to get on. There is a sand wall built between in the Western Sahara to seal out Morocco. Shall I go on? These are just a selection of the world's walls. The border between Botswana and Zimbabwe is separated by an electrified fence. Malaysia and Thailand are separated by a wall as are Iraq to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
And now in 2016 European countries again want to put up walls of failure in Bulgaria andGreece. Certainly the UK has spent millions on its own wall of failure on French territory and to keep out those from the so called 'Calais Jungle'. I would have thought that the world and its leaders would be embarrassed to keep using such high profile symbols of their failure but it seems not.
It seems that the current Pope thinks that building Bridges is a much better idea than building walls, maybe he has a point. I know that as a follower of Jesus that should makes us generous rather than selfish and if we want to build 'failure walls' because we perceive people as our enemies then the Jesus instruction is to Love your enemies. Walls don’t work.