We build too many walls and not enough bridges.
– Isaac Newton
Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.
– Maya Angelou
There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect.
Life is a solitary cell whose walls are mirrors.
– Eugene O’Neill
It has been thirty years since the fall of the Berlin wall. The wall itself did not come down on Nov. 9th, 1989 at least not physically. Rather, people were allowed to freely pass through it having been given permission by the East German powers that were. The physical wall came down in bits and pieces over time. A few small sections of it stand in various areas around New York City.
It has been 50 years since the first episode of Sesame Street aired on Nov. 10th, 1969. The only walls on Sesame St. are the actual walls of the buildings on the most favorite thoroughfare for toddlers worldwide. On Sesame St. there is absolutely no effort to keep people (and puppets, or er, rather, Muppets) apart. Instead, the whole point of Sesame St. is to welcome and promote understanding despite our differences and in so understanding those differences we may come to appreciate what we have in common. The monsters on Sesame St. are not destroying CGI created cities in movies, nor are they denying water and necessities to human beings crossing dangerous terrains to escape horrifying conditions most of us would shudder to imagine, nor are they contributing to the detainment and separation of small children and their parents. The monsters on Sesame St. only seek to devour as many cookies as possible. And the friends of such monsters are forever preaching the gospel of sharing.
The Berlin Wall left little in the way of cookies for the people subjected to living behind the eastern side of it. Bread was more important and often the procurement of such a staple required human beings to stand on long lines only to pay a price commensurate with a continued commitment to desperation and international political isolation. Almost as soon as that wall came down a united Germany was well on the way to becoming one of the most economically prosperous of European powers.
Today, in the land of the free and the home of the brave, on the eve of a day in which we celebrate thanksgiving for all we have, we would do well to remember that had the ancestors of Europeans encountered such a type of resistance from the natives of the time, this nation would not be in a position today to celebrate in such a manner. We would more likely not be in a position today to even be a nation. The great irony here of course is if the natives of the time had made such an effort, they likely would have saved themselves from the toxic effects of their own near genocide at the hands of the suffering human beings they welcomed. Not only did the descendants of such immigrants soon turn on the kindness and generosity extended to them by natives in the way of blatant land theft and subjugation but the diseases they sailed onto these shores with introduced viruses into a population absent of a general immunity to them. It is a perplexing and perhaps ironic dilemma of social conscience that should be a consideration for all Americans on this most sacred holiday in this unique national experience of ours. Yes, we should be grateful but with that expression of gratitude there should also be present a recognition that this freedom, this abundance of comforts, creature and otherwise came at great expense to so many others. We should also take note that our most venerable document arose in no small part from the Articles of Confederacy of the Iroquois Nation which called for a separation of powers, freedom of religion and free speech. The only significant differences between this and our constitution is that the Iroquois also extended these liberties to women and non-whites.
If we wish to truly honor the sacrifices made by indigenous peoples, if we have evolved enough to create documents which sing to an evolution of spirit while aspiring to notions of liberty and justice for all, then we should as a nation stand ready to cast aside the thuggeries of malevolence and willingly pay forward the same spirit of beneficence that made this nation possible in the first place. To do otherwise dishonors the spirit of all of our ancestors and negates the contributions of the peoples whose original generosity made possible the carving of a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, even if the reality and effort has too often lacked in achievement. Because, muddled and perverse as these aspirations may become, ultimately they were seeded to a better tomorrow. We are now entrusted with this cause; we must do better. Our children, our nation and indeed our very planet demands it of us. The Berlin Wall didn’t work. Or, to paraphrase a famous connoisseur of baked goods, Me no want wall. Me want cookie!!
Happy Thanksgiving !