Walls have been always been part of the human race ever since we wanted to divide us and them. “Them” being other people with a difference in race, skin color, culture, customs, dress, religion, value systems, ideologies, language, or gender.
Sometimes walls are created to keep “our people” from moving to “them” or adapting their ideologies, behavior, or belief systems. To put simply, we have a tendency to fear people who are different from us.
If the fear is irrational (not based on facts), then it known as xenophobia.
But sometimes there are good reasons. The Great Wall of China is an example. The Mongols were attacking China, which had little natural defences on the steppes. We also have walls to keep the incarcerated in the prisons, primarily to keep ourselves safe from thieves, mountebanks, and others who really want to physically hurt us. Back to walls.
We will also fear losing something if our people willing leave “us”. Maybe we fear our loss of control or pride, maybe it’s because we might have to admit our system is bankrupt, broken, or just simply bad. And that is not easy (it’s common thing with humans).
It’s a lot easier to build a wall than to admit something is wrong with our system and actually fix the deficiencies of our system. That takes courage and getting out of false dichotomy of the “us” versus them proposition.
So who builds walls to keep non-violent, non-criminals, ordinary, happy people behind walls?
Fascisms, dictatorships, and inept or incompetent leaders favor walls. You might not completely believe me but consider the Berlin Wall.
The Berlin Wall was created to keep East Germans from escaping because what lay in West Berlin, and the rest of the Western World, offered them a better life with more financial opportunities and a longer life expectancy.
Back to walls again. Hadrian’s Wall is an example of wall being built because we to prevent “them” from attacking us. But in this case, it was because Rome decided to invade, attack, and then steal the land from the original people who were living there. If the Romans never invaded the England (or Britannia as it was known in Roman times), there would be no need for a Hadrian to build his wall. This wall was unnecessary.
Walls don’t have to be physical. We created our own mental walls, again mostly for protection, a protection that usually does more harm than just being open to new ideas.
These walls are built to host our paranoia, our fears, our lack of courage when there is something new and we don’t have enough stones, bricks, wood, or concrete to build our walls. Instead we build them out of our individual units of intolerance, hatred, stupidity, and false ideas.
Thor Heyerdahl, the great Norwegian explorer, had this quote; ““Borders I have never seen one. But I have heard they exist in the minds of some people.” It hangs in my bedroom, reminding me the only way to grow is to explore.