The wall came down 20 years ago today. Just one. We had millions then. Perhaps billions. We still do. You see, even if there is a physical divide, it came about for reasons solely in our minds. Just in our minds. Not real. Not physical. Not necessary.
Fear, ignorance, stupidity, obstinate disregard for others, for the truth, for reality. Reality being, we need to get along to survive on this planet. We just do. We need to get along, work together, protect each other, and protect this planet. From the worst in all of us. From our worst impulses.
We have one home, one life, one chance.
They build walls to keep peace from settling into its natural place in our lives. They build walls, wage wars, spread hate, ignorance and despair, so that fewer and fewer people control more and more wealth and power. So that “the masses” become even more divided from each other and our natural place on this planet. So “the masses” become objectified, become cattle and sheep for the powers that be. Sheep. Cattle led to the slaughter. Tricked into it, more often than not, by buzz words and cynical propaganda, talk of “patriotism” and “honor” and “courage”. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, when you hear someone powerful saying those things, he or she is asking you to risk your life and destroy others while he or she remains safe behind . . . walls.
Walls. God damn walls.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said:
“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.”
This is very basic and very profound. It speaks volumes. For too long, too many people have had this warped and twisted idea that we gain peace through wars. That we get to taste a few sweet moments of peace between wars and that we need to fight those wars to get those few sweet moments of interlude. To hell with that. The best way to make peace is not to fight wars in the first place. We make peace by living in peace. We sustain it by a journey through and with and because of peace.
“Peace is not an absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.”
One of the biggest failings of peace movements is lack of confidence. We have ceded the confidence issue over to the warmongers and saber-rattlers. We have ceded too much ground to those who think it’s somehow “manly” to throw your one and only life away on the field of battle. How absurd to think that one proves one’s courage by shooting and killing other human beings, especially from distances that would have shocked the warriors of The Iliad. While blood is blood, and killing is killing, the fighters of Homer’s epic faced each other, stood nearly toe to toe. They faced the horror of the battlefield directly. Perhaps the closeness of battle would make people less eager for it. Perhaps seeing that the Other is a human being, and not some monster created by endless propaganda, would reduce the number and intensity of wars.
Rabindranath Tagore said:
“In the night we stumble over things and become acutely conscious of their separateness, but the day reveals the unity which embraces them. And the man whose inner vision is bathed in consciousness at once realizes the spiritual unity which reigns over all racial differences, and his mind no longer stumbles over individual facts, accepting them as final. He realizes that peace is an inner harmony and not an outer adjustment, that beauty carries the assurance of our relationship to reality, which waits for its perfection in the response of our love.”
I think humans are hard-wired to organize things in certain ways. Our minds function as organizing machines, grouping things here, bundling them there, arranging them in this way or that . . . even though, in reality, the connections are far more extensive, complex, multifaceted and universal, cover much more ground, and break through all boundaries. In nature, in the universe, in reality, there are no walls. We create them, insert them, force them into the universe. And time. We force walls between minutes, hours, years, epochs. We break things off into arbitrary sections. We think of post-modernism as coming after high modernism, but in reality, there was never any break, no full-stop, no beginning of something totally without precedent. The arts are always flowing, as time always flows from moment to moment, and beyond that. Moments, of course, don’t even exist. Nothing ends and begins. Time just goes on.
Our hard-wiring is beneficial in that it helps us organize our lives efficiently enough to focus on the things we need to do to survive, even thrive. But it gets in the way of living in peace with others, because we wall off people, genders, political parties, nations and time periods often for no other reason than to save time and because it seems convenient. We divide and dismiss. We do this, we have always done this, perhaps because most of us haven’t learned enough about ourselves to overcome our propensities for grouping and dismissing. Because we are certain in our minds (conscious and subconscious) that opening ourselves up to all space and time would destroy us. We would explode into chaos, or implode into lost fragments of our former selves.
I’m convinced that our next step up on the evolutionary ladder will be overcoming our all too provincial organizing methods. Once we learn to see through walls, once we discover there are no walls, we will find peace.