A recent visit to a section of Hadrian’s wall left me reflecting on division and unity, both around the world and closer to home.
Hadrian’s wall, dating back to the 2nd century A.D. was built to separate the Romans from the barbarians – no matter what the reason, as its debated, the fact is, it was built to divide people, a way of saying “we do not want to mix with them”.
No matter what your opinion on Brexit, the decision to leave the European Union is a decision of division. I’m not here to debate whether it is right, wrong, good or bad, just reflecting on whether history demonstrates that division works.
Taking Hadrian’s wall as an example, although they wanted separation, there were Milecastles guarding gateways through the wall, so they expected/wanted some movement through the wall. Of course, the wall has been largely demolished and there is now free movement between Scotland and England but how long will this last? Since the Brexit referendum, the debate about Scotland leaving the UK has hotted up again; it’s odd to have to decide to leave one union in order to remain in another, of course it’s more complicated than that but on the face of it, this doesn’t make sense!
The Berlin Wall is another example of the devastating effects of division. Mayor Willy Brandt coined the phrase “wall of shame”, due to it causing restriction of movement, causing devastation as it tore close families and friends apart. Even though I was only 8, I vividly remember the Berlin Wall coming down, it was a momentous time of reunification.
So, we have learnt that division doesn’t work. Division is about considering one group of people better or more deserving than another, barriers are about keeping the right people in and the wrong people out. Instead we now have laws about equality and preventing discrimination, I think the world works better if we truly believe we are all equal.
There are still far too many people in the world who think “I have more money than you therefore I am better” or “I’m in a more powerful position than you, therefore I will exert my power negatively over you”. Surely having money should be an opportunity to give, power should present an opportunity to influence positive change?
I know not everyone thinks in exactly the same way and we’ll have different views on what money should be spent on and why, but the fundamental idea of working together should, surely, be central to everything we do??
The journey of recovery from mental illness is a humbling one. You realise you can’t do it without the support of other people. Mental illness has a way of building barriers between you and your closest friends and family but recovery has the opposite effect. Once you start opening up and saying “I can’t do this alone”, the walls start being broken down.
I have no idea what the thought is behind putting a wall up between America and Mexico. History shows that walls and barriers do not work, they are always torn down.
If we learn from the past we can see unity works better than division. It takes humility to work with others. It takes a truly strong person to be humble.