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Of Walls and Dreams – 9 November 1989, the Berlin Wall comes down

How old were you when the Berlin Wall came down?

I was seventeen. That impressionable age when everything that happens around you finds a way inside yourself, make its residence there and never leaves again.

Sometimes I wonder whether having seen that wall come down has made me the person that I am.
Of course, I didn’t know it back then. I was just seventeen. I didn’t know that I was going to become a person who loathes walls. Someone who likes doors to be opened, rather than closed. Someone who thinks that walls are meant to separate. Walls are made to contain us, to stop our gaze into the future. They are intended to hide what’s beyond so that we ignore what it’s behind it, and our ignoring fuels our fears. And our fears make our horizon even smaller.
Maybe, seeing the Berlin Wall come down, that Wall that was already there when I was born and that I took for granted, implanted in me the idea that every wall may come down. That no wall is strong enough or old enough or scary enough to stand when people determine that they want to see what’s really behind it.

What I remember of that day is sitting in front of the tv with my granddad, watching the images coming from Berlin and thinking, “I want to remember this. I want to remember this forever.”

I’d be ashamed to show to my teenage me the world where I live. I’m afraid I’d be forced to tell her, “Don’t dream too hard about a world without walls and borders. A world where you can talk to your friends on the other side of the world whenever you want and where people are judged not based on our fears but on our awareness. Dreams never come true.”

And yet…

I think I know what my teenage me would answer me. I can still hear her far away voice with my adult ear. “Don’t be silly,” she says. “Dreams always have a chance to survive. If we take the helm and sail them into a safe haven.”

9 November 1989, the Berlin Wall comes down. Sometimes I wonder whether having seen that wall come down made me the person that I am.

2 Comments

  • JOHN T. SHEA
    Posted November 9, 2019 at 22:04

    Interesting, Sarah! I was amazed by the fall of the Wall and of Communism in general. I did not expect it. Few people did. Even today I sometimes read SF novels or stories written before 1989 but set later, which assume the Wall and Communism would still exist today, and possibly forever.

    Nothing is perfect, certainly not our present world, but it could and had been a lot worse. The 1970s were FAR worse in most respects, but have largely been forgotten. Then the future of the world often looked like North Korea. The few who thought the Cold War might end mostly expected a Communist victory and the end of freedom. Such an outcome was declared historically and scientifically inevitable by legions of experts and leaders everywhere.

    I find the Human Progress website informative about the general state of our world.
    https://humanprogress.org/ So overall I agree with your teenage self!

    Many thanks for this and all your articles, Sarah!

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted November 13, 2019 at 09:30

      History had this habit to surprise us, don’t you find? And yes, we probably tend to see the future with a black lense.

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