The Berlin Wall Inside Our Minds

I lived in a communist country, Romania, until I was 19. Just after I turned 19, Romania went through a process called “the Romanian Revolution” (which turned out to be not quite a revolution, after a few years) at the end of which it became a democracy.

But until then, the farthest place allowed for us to travel was the Berlin wall, in Eastern Germany. Going beyond that place was incredibly difficult, basically impossible. The Berlin wall was the prison’s fence. Our territory (and with it, our opportunities and our lifestyle) was restricted to it.

The Berlin wall fell on November 9th, 1989 – just a day before my birthday. After that, the world experienced 3 decades of relative freedom. Until 2019, that is, or, to be more precise, until the beginning of 2020.

From the moment we learned about a global pandemic, a new type of wall emerged. This time, because the entire world was territorially shut down, it was in our minds. It was a new boundary, created by fear. Although now we are starting to reboot the world, and experience a bit of freedom of movement, the walls have been already created.

They are there, in our minds, shaping our actions day in and day out.

Wearing a mask puts you on this, or on the other side of the wall.

Getting vaccinated against Covid puts you on this, or on the other side of the wall.

The polarization created by media and governments, greatly supported by our inherent fear, which was hijacked cynically by ruthless actors, is now real. You can see it on the streets, in the way we choose our social circle, in the way we work, in the way we travel, or don’t travel.

It’s all in our heads. The wall, I mean. It has no real support whatsoever. It was all built for months, adding brick of fear on top of brick of fear, until some of us decided to give in. To accept “protection” against of an enemy we never really know. Some of us met it (in my social circle, many went through the illness) only to realize it wasn’t even remotely as dangerous as it was described. But it was already too late. The wall was built, and our mental map was reshaped.

It will be interesting to see what are the boundaries of this new wall in the next decades. How the world will be shaped by it. How clear the differences, the places, the castes created by it.

Sometimes I believe (or it is just wishful thinking?) that this wall will fall much faster than the old, physical Berlin wall. Maybe in the next 4-5 years. Just as violently as the old wall, but much faster.

Well, whether or not it will fall, and whether or not it will fall in the next decades or in the next 4-5 years, I intend to be on the “good” side of it.

I already know how it is on the “bad” side.

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