Once again we see new walls coming up to separate man from man - this time in the Middle East - although the dust of the last one demolished in Europe is yet to settle. Thousands of people came from both sides of the Berlin wall to tear it down into rubble with their own hands. Exuberant with the sense of freedom after decades of restrictions, they ran back and forth the erstwhile border, jeering and hurling insults at soldiers of the wall-builders.
All can see how much man values freedom and how he has broken the artificial barriers in the past. In fact whatever mankind is and enjoys today in the shape of modern civilization, is a result of free movement of people from one end of the earth to the other. Not only did the intermixing improve the human genetic pool, it spread knowledge and built it bit-by-bit starting from the wheel and the Zero from the East to what one see in the West of today. All know of the messages of the prophets urging mankind to share the earth and have listened to the wise men about the greater good in greater sharing.
Yet, leaders of the nations choose to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to them all. They persist on forgetting the basic truths of life as they pursue their selfish agendas to the detriment of the common good of man on earth. Oblivious of a history of futility of walls, fences, iron curtains, nuclear umbrellas and defense lines, they persist on trying to make the obstacles more impregnable. Not content with the brick and mortar, they devise more sinister barriers that block information between nations and end up in distorting minds of the people. Focused on the narrow national interests they play on the psyche of people to create mutual mistrust and animosity to justify further legal, cultural, economic and ideological walls.
Essentially all walls are an affront to the solidarity and equality of the mankind and therefore destined to come down, sooner or later. What is sad is the human sufferings the cause while they are there. Walls are generally built to keep out the perceived barbarian or the terrorists who cannot be overpowered otherwise. But so far there is no universally accepted definition of either. It is all relative to the circumstances of the perceiver and his time and place in the history. In fact the pendulum of time has swung more than once pointing at the barbarian of the yesteryear as the elite of today's civilization, and vice versa.
In the larger perspective of history, the only truth that emerges is that all such intruders who want to force their way into a prosperous society are essentially the 'excluded ones'. They knock at your doors to be included as the members of the human family and to demand their share as the dwellers of the same earth. They may be claiming the fruits of what you borrowed from them in the past or what you expropriated unjustly, or to tell you simply that you have to stop robbing them of their freedom and their resources covertly and leave them alone.
The first wall mentioned in the scriptures was built to keep out the barbarians Gog and Magog, which did not last with the will of God. The greatest edifice of all, the Great Wall of China could not stop the Mongols who marched on circumventing the wall at the invitation of the victims of an unjust Emperor. The invincible ramparts of Roman security could not stand the onslaught of the half-wild Huns and collapsed leaving historians wondering what went wrong. Coming to modern times, the famous Maginot Line could not stop the Nazis who by passed it and entered France through another route. Last but not the least, the all mighty nuclear umbrella of Communism kept sitting where it was, while the Capitalists tunneled their way through the economy to implode the USSR.
Once the blood thirsty barbarians of Mongolia were able to break- through the veritable walls of 'civilization' that had surrounded them in a state of stagnation, they were soon able to settle down. The herds that had crossed over the Great Wall gave up their tents, moved into palaces and ruled for centuries with all the sophistication of a Chinese dynasty. Their bands that had broken the snow barrier to the North adopted the Christians faith of mercy and kindness. Those who overpowered the faithful in the West espoused Islam and became defenders of the faith. The brutal Huns and the Nazis of Europe similarly melted away in the anonymity of civil societies once their disputes were settled. They are now reincarnated as the peacefully coexisting and progressive citizens of the European Union.
Building walls to keep others out, without realizing that it also amounts to keeping yourself in, is the oldest comedy that humankind has enacted repeatedly. This time 'God's own chosen people' want to build the promised paradise behind walls by keeping out the 'God's blunders' from their sanctified midst. Hundreds of miles of barbed (now razor) wire fences and even electrified ones, with landmines buried nearby, are being raised so that Kashmiris may not move within their own land --- because a Pilate-like disinterested alien had drawn a particular line on a map somewhere and an irrelevant person signed a piece of paper elsewhere else. A Home Security Wall effusing contempt is being raised on the USA borders to keep the hungry and exhausted out and to keep all the goodies to itself. The most opaque of all is the wall that keeps the American populace ignorant of their Government's misdeeds. It looms large to the sorrow of the entire humanity with its potentially deadly consequences.
Has man still not matured to know better? Has he not broken the barriers of gravity and catapulted himself into space so far forbidden to the earthlings. Did he not see 'God's-eye-view' of a borderless world from up there? Has he not ripped open the heart of atom and come face to face with energy in its cosmic purity, and found it without a race or religion? Did he not break into the sanctum sanctorum of the organic cell and looked into the eyes of genes, the designers of life, who proved to be neither Jewish nor Arab, neither Hindu nor Muslims in their origin.
Humankind, no doubt has come to know a good part of the truth if not the whole truth, yet has the audacity and the foolishness to believe that God is a parochial and tribal creator and has been allotting pieces of land to his favorite creatures, granting them the right to kill and banish others. Is it not shocking that some believe so, and many more go along accepting it in a dishonest pursuit of their selfish goals?
It appears that man is not one, but a split personality --- half possessed by the angels and the other half by the devil. He is a genius of creation that is capable of unlocking the secrets of life and harnessing the bounties of nature, but on the other hand he is also the nincompoop of Mother Nature who devours more than what he can replace, and cannot tread upon the earth without pillaging it.
He has soon to grow out of his animal heritage that impels him to go round scent marking his territory and fighting for it. He has lost the 'instinctual wisdom' of his progenitor, who lived in harmony with Nature and regulated the balance between food supply and population that guaranteed him as eternal sustainability. He has, instead, opted for knowledge that gives him power to kill, but remains bereft of wisdom of life. He has tools and vision to build sky-high towers, but lacks the life-sense of an earthworm that lives by the code of nature without causing harm to any other life form. Sent in exile from the Garden of Eden for stealing awareness, this cosmic orphan may never reach the Kingdom of Heaven if he does not discover the wisdom of coexistence that he left behind.
The panacea for the problems of nations, whether they live in pain of poverty or in a fear of losing their security and good life, lies in the realization that both are the problems of the entire humanity. The answer lies not in building walls but in demolishing them. It does not lie in acquiring better knowledge of means of destruction but in finding ways of doing away with the need of destruction. It does not lie in unending accumulation of material wealth, but in allowing and helping others to meet their needs. It lies in building up on the social, spiritual and scientific foundations of the common heritage of man and sharing it with all the residents of the earth. It lies in an egalitarian and just order between the nations of the world, the same way it is aspired for people within a society.
All this will never be realized by the politicians who come in power to take care of the 'national interest' and find virtue in promoting it to the grief of others. It is the enlightened few, who talk of the 'human interest' that must be identified and followed by the people of the world. Only a massive activism can banish the mediocre from power and bring sanity to rule. Equality among mankind may require some to give up a few of the luxuries they enjoy, but they will be more than compensated and enriched in the secure joy of life that comes from sharing --- by building bridges to include others in their lives --- not by raising walls to exclude them.
The author is an independent commentator based in Karachi, Pakistan
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