On Saturday, the world marked the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. That wall stood for 10,316 days until it was dismantled on Nov. 9, 1989.
The wall’s fall appeared to mark the victory of capitalism and democracy in the Cold War, a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union with its satellite states and the United States with its allies after World War II.
The wall came down partly because of a bureaucratic accident and, in the view of many observers of geopolitics, amid a wave of revolutions that left the Soviet communist bloc teetering on the brink of collapse and helped define a new world order.
That day in 1989, the East German government suddenly allowed its citizens to pass through to the Western side, with Washington addressing the momentous implications of Moscow’s glasnost policy.
But while the dismantling of the Berlin Wall —once described by West Germans as a “wall of shame” and seen as a milestone that would reshape the modern world—was epoch-making in world history, it appears that 30 years later, there is still much to hope for in the world.
In the United States, the chief executive remains obsessed with building a wall meant to keep out immigrants at all costs, even if it meant tearing them away from their young children.
Aside from physical boundaries, the world remains plagued by widespread cultures of greed, hate and intolerance that continue to cause deaths and sow discord among groups.
Because of the relentless pursuit of economic development, there is a wider gap than ever between the rich and comfortable, and the poor and perennially threatened majority who find themselves vulnerable to the effects of displacement and climate change.
Many turn a blind eye to atrocities committed against groups of people just because the perpetrators keep a tight grip on power and control the information—nay, propaganda—and go after those who are critical of them.
The benefits of technology have been perverted to favor several entities and to manipulate the way people think they see the world. As a result, there has also come to be a gap between the truth and the many versions of it, depending on who is talking.
How much longer will it take, we wonder, for these newer walls to be dismantled? Certainly we have to do something, because they will never come down on their own.