I really like the simplicity and hopeful message which Day 27′s dream-memory imparts. This latest remembered memory from Kaim is titled “Beyond the Wall” and is quite timely in our current times of discord and division.
I grew up in the final decade of the Cold War when two sides suddenly began to realize that all the hatred between the two superpowers were only going to lead to the utter annihilation of the human race. The biggest and most prominent symbol of this division was the Berlin Wall which separated Communist Berlin from the Democratic side. This city which once was the seat of a genocidal madman who brought the world to war became a new silent battleground between differing ideologies which came out from the end of that war.
People on both sides were taught from an early age to hate the other side. Other nations began to take sides whether voluntarily or forced into by those who created the division. By the time I was old enough to understand the Cold War was at it’s height, but at the same time began to see a gradual decline until the unthinkable occurred in the early 1990′s: The Berlin Wall came down and the city which had been divided for almost a half-century was whole once again and people on both sides realized they had more in common than they realized. The monsters each side thought they would find never came to being.
While the Cold War is now over there are now new divisions both small and large. Divisions created by religious extremism on all sides. Divisions created by political parties who have forgotten the need for polite discourse and instead opted for demagoguery. Even racial divisions continue to exist despite forward strides to eliminate them.
In the end, “Beyond the Wall” teaches a simple moral. For all the hate people may have for the “other side” the truth of the matter is that most people have never met or ever been harmed by the “other side” but have bought into being told to hate those not “them” or “us”. Once that “wall” dividing people gets pulled down and we really see who the “other side” really are then, and only then, can we begin that long journey to quitting the job humanity has always been best at: WAR.
Beyond the Wall
The Wall is being demolished
Sledgehammers resound on both sides.
The Wall marked the national borders for decades — until yesterday. “Border” might not be the right word, however. Originally, both sides were part of a single nation. The country became divided owing to differences in ideology, and the two sides remained so mutually antagonistic that a high, thick wall had to be built. Those days are gone now.
A year ago, the leaders of the two sides shook hands in a historic reconciliation.
Today, after much preparation and coordination, the wall that symbolized the two sides’ antagonism is being demolished. The sound of hammering signals the end of opposition and extols the beginning of peace.
“C’mon, give me a break!” says Yuguno, spitting on the ground and glaring at the backs of the people swarming at the wall.
“Look at them, smiling like idiots. I can’t believe it!”
He glances at Kaim by his side as if to say: “Right?”
His still-boyish face wears a scowl of disgust.
“Tell me, Kaim, you’ve been to a lot of different countries and seen all kinds of people. Can people just take years of hatred like that and throw it out the window?”
Kaim gives him a sour smile instead of replying.
Yuguno is a young man, the first person that Kaim became friends with shortly after he arrived in this border town. He is pleasant enough except for is stubborn hatred of people from the “other side”
“One lousy handshake and I’m out of a job. I mean really, give me a break.”
Yuguno used to be a border guard – in other words, one of the men assigned to keep watch on the wall. He had volunteered, eager to kill anyone who dared to come over the wall from the other side. If his superiors had permitted it, he would have gladly crossed over and attacked the other side rather than waiting to fend off an invasion.
As a mandatory part of reconciliaton, however, the border guards were disbanded. Unlike his brothers in arms, who quickly started new lives for themselves, Yuguno was left behind by the changing times.
“Tell me, Kaim, can people be allowed to just slough off their resentments so easily? Do they just not give a damn?”
Kaim does not respond to this.
He knows Yuguno is a victim of the age of confrontation.
Still just a young man — a boy, even — Yuguno has been thoroughly conditioned since childhood to view the other side as the enemy.
Watch out — the other side could attack at any time.
Watch out — the other side are all cruel, cold-hearted villains.
Watch out — if the other side ever invaded us and occupied our towns, they’d burn down our houses, steal our property, kill our men, and assault our women.
Watch out — the day is not far off when they will be invading us. It could be three days from now, or it could be tomorrow. They might be climbing the wall today. This very moment.
Watch out — they’ve already sent their spies among us. And you can tell for sure who they are. They’re the ones who extol and sympathize with the other side by word and by deed.
Watch out — they’re probing for the slightest gaps in our psychological armor. Remain alert. Be ready to draw your sword at any moment.
Watch out, watch out, watch out, watch out.
There was much to be found out about the other side in the history books distributed in the schools on this side. The pictures of the people from the other side portrayed them all as ferocious demons.
“I’m not the only one, you know. All of us were taught the same thing. So how come everybody but me is so happy about the wall coming down?” Yuguno asks, looking utterly bewildered by these new developments.
Again and again he repeats his disbelief.
Finally, Kaim cannot help but respond to him.
“You were too pure”, he says.
“It’s not your fault, Yuguno. It’s the ones who filled your pure, honest heart with hatred.”
“Wait a second now, Kaim. The animals who live on the other side of the wall are the ones who did that to me, the horrible things they do…”
Kaim cuts him short.
“Have they ever done anything horrible to you?”
“Well sure, no, not really to me, but . . .
Well, you see . . .”
Yuguno is momentarily at a loss for words until all he can do is raise his voice and blurt out.
“It’s true, though. The whole bunch of them are just horrible people!”
He folds his arms in a decided pout.
“How are they horrible? What did you ever see any of them do? When? Where?”
Yuguno stammers and sputters.
“Have you ever even met somebody from ever there?” Kaim demands to know.
Yuguno hangs his head and shakes it from side to side.
With a grim smile, Kaim says: “Well, I have. And they’re not devils or demons or anything of the sort. How could they be? You used to be part of the same country! But that stuff is beside the point anyway — countries and races and tribes. You’re all human beings. You’re all the same.”
Yuguno stays silent, hanging his head.
Cheers erupt at the wall.
The wall that has seperated the two worlds for decades has just now been broken through.
Representatives from his side and the other side walk through the opening, greet each other with smiles and firm handshakes, and embrace.
The cheers grow louder, and people — mostly people of the younger generation — gather in circles here and there, expressing their joy.
Yuguno glares down at his own shadow and asks Kaim.
“So, what should I do now? All I’ve ever done is hate. All I’ve ever known how to do is hate them.”
Kaim gives Yuguno a pat on the shoulder and says:
“It’s not too late to change. You can start now.”
“You can, I’m sure of it.”
Kaim is sure because he knows what it was like when both sides were a single country. It was a kindly nation. By no means rich. It was yet a happy country of compassionate people.
“I’m telling you, Yuguno, people can change.”
“If you say so . . .”
“Look over there, Yuguno. Look at those people enjoying themselves.”
Hesitantly, Yuguno raises his head. Around the wall a celebration is beginning. Young people are dancing, singing, toasting each other, engaging in conversation and all of them used to be companions of Yuguno’s who received the same education he did. No doubt the young people on the other side were similarly educated to hate.
“What do you see over there? Demons? Devils?”
Yuguno shakes his head and lets the tightness out of his shoulders.
“I’m beginning to wonder, Kaim, why until now I’ve been so . . .”
Kaim pats him on the shoulder again to signal that he understands.
“People can change,” he says, “they can change from hating to loving — and from loving to hating.”
Yes, Kaim knows about that well. He saw how such a wonderfully unified country was divided in two at the end of a violent civil war.
“Don’t change anymore.” Kaim says, not just to Yuguno but to all the smiling young people.
A young girl hesitantly approaches Yuguno.
She is from the other side. She holds a plate full of cookies.
“Have some if you’d like,” she says, “I baked them this morning.”
The cookies are heart-shaped.
Urged on by the smiling Kaim, Yuguno reaches out for a cookie, his face bright red.
“Thanks” he says shyly and takes a bite of his cookie.
“Good?” she asks.
Yuguno turns a deeper shade of red and says: “Delicious!”
White bird cut across the blue sky —
from the other side to this side,
from this side to the other.
The white birds sail trough the sky almost joyfully, as if to tell the people below.
In the beginning, there were no borders!