Innocence. I remember when Bruce Hornsby sang about its untimely end, and back then (unlike now) I really didn’t know what that loss truly meant. The 1980s are considered my lost decade for a very good reason. However, 1989 was a particularly memorable year. It was considered a “turning point in political history” as a wave of revolutions arose that culminated in the fall of the Berlin Wall. That November day, when close to if not more than a half million people gathered in East Berlin to demand change. Just remembering that time brings to mind another song that to this very day sends chills through my body.
Take me to the magic of the moment on a glory night, where the children of tomorrow dream away, in the wind of change…
Have you ever seen that music video? It’s incredible. There is real video footage from the moment the Wall “fell.” Why was it even built to begin with? The story of its invention is interesting, and the parallels can be seen today. The victors of WWII had divided Berlin into four sectors, obstensibly in an effort to prevent another Hitler from emerging. But the Communist-Capitalist Conflict would instead divide the land mass of Germany into the Federal Republic of Germany (West) and the German Democratic Republic (East). The West aligned with NATO while the East allied to the Communist Warsaw Pact. Meanwhile the capital city Berlin remained under joint occupation and there was little in the way to prevent East Germans from defecting to the West in search of a higher standard of living and more personal freedoms. 2.5 million mostly young people fled to the greener pasture, leaving “brain drain” and a labor vacuum in their wake. During the summer of 1961 the exodus reached critical mass. The Communist government of the East gave unholy birth to the famous wall on “barbed-wire Sunday.” It was doomed from the outset, and it did finally die in 1989.
1989 was also the year I had a nightmare about the war with the Middle East playing out on US soil. 1989 was the year I had another dream about leaving for California with my little blonde daughter, five years before I actually had that little blonde daughter and eight years before I did in fact leave for California.
Fast forward to the present, right before I sat down to write my blog post about a completely unrelated topic, I learned that protests have popped up in our country over “safe spaces.” Do you know what a safe space is? I actually didn’t, and had to look it up. It sounds a lot like my office, in fact; and if you’re employed by someone other than yourself your workplace will be the same. Its an ordinary place where violence, harassment, discrimination and hate speech aren’t tolerated. Groups of people who are ordinarily targets are able to exist and go on with their lives without overt fear.
But, somebody out there is so filled with internal misguided hate that they can’t even allow their favorite punching bags a brief reprieve. Might I remind these fools that freedom isn’t about the right to be hurtful. You aren’t practising your freedom of speech by bullying others. In fact, freedom of speech only protects you from the federal government prosecuting you for voicing an opinion. Don’t confuse that with the misconception that you can freely commit hate crimes, etc. Don’t allow your heart to fill up with so much negativity that you can’t even allow another person to just be. As has been demonstrated over and over and over in our world’s history, this kind of personal and physical wall DOES NOT SUCCEED.
If only those same bullies could experience what it’s really like to be on the wrong side of the wall, maybe they would learn what true freedom is, and why it’s worth fighting for.