Learning from Walls

I recently read that there are more wall-type barriers in the world than before the end of World War II. Whether true or not is debatable. However, there is food for thought.

What can I learn from these physical walls, and how can I apply that learning to myself?

When governments at any level erect walls, there is an adversarial mind-fence built simultaneously – me versus them.

I think of the Berlin Wall, dividing Berlin. Research has indicated that at the beginning of the wall’s existence, residents on each side couldn’t tell which way the wall was facing. Is it to keep me safe or keep them away? There was no us/them.

As time passed, residents on each side of the dividing wall concluded it was to keep them out. When the wall fell, Eastern Germans had to be reintegrated into their own country – even though most had not moved from their original location near the barrier.

I can see these walls in my life. Most are now routine with a rationale for maintaining them. We have at least two school systems, a public and others based on religion, race, location, etc. Two districts I read about had children on one side of the street attending a different school than their friends right across the street.

On the other hand, I think diversity and choice are essential. By having more than one school system, we can look over the virtual fence and ask why those children show vastly different outcomes. Maybe better, maybe worse.

A conundrum. I want my cake and eat it too. If I can accept that some walls are necessary, then I can look for the required level of porousness. Adults can sometimes overbuild. Not all walls need to be impervious to seepage!

School districts could build opportunities to experience time with students from other districts doing joint projects built into the curriculum. Does busing have to be done separately?

I took a river cruise a few years back, and our boat was docked side-by-side to another cruise line’s ship, as there wasn’t enough wharf space. We received instructions about passing through the lobby of the other boat to get to shore. The speaker, trying to be funny, set up a mental wall between us and the other cruise line passengers. Essentially “please do not look around at the sad and ageing décor of the lobby as we walked to shore.”

In the requested reviews at the end of the trip, I outlined this incident. I receive a phone call from the head of the department, asking for more details and assuring me this behaviour was not consistent with their company’s expectations.

Please give this a bit of a think. Can you identify one wall, real or mental? And second, can you make this barrier be more porous or eliminated by you? This might be a physical demolition job or a mental re-think.

I’m curious about your thoughts. Please leave your comment. I read every one.

Photo by Matt Seymour on Unsplash

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