The Berlin Wall went down

I doesn’t seem that long ago that the Berlin Wall came down. I remember visiting East Germany as a kid. My mother was born and grew up in the town of Gotha in Thuringen, which became the Eastern Zone after World War Two.  In 1970 I accompanied her on a trip back to the old home town. I remember how gray and dusty everything was. Coal was the main means of power generation and there was coal dust on everything. The cities and towns were run down and in disrepair. Many of the buildings damaged by the allied bombing 25 or 30 years earlier stood in ruins still, unchanged since the bombing. The Cold War was still on and there were Russian troops and Russian tanks everywhere.  It was a weird experience. The people we met were all very kind and very hospitable. They were happy to have outsiders visiting and they were glad to share the little they had.

It was clear to me after seeing the place, staying with the people and hearing some of the conversation, that the communist regime could not last for ever.  The people were tired of living under duress…first under the Nazis, then under the Communists. The people knew what was going on in the West. They could get West German TV stations. They could hear West German radio.

We took two or three trips to Germany during those years and I got to know the Western zone pretty well, too.

I went to the Wall several times. I visited viewing spots in several locations and made the crossing from West Berlin into East Berlin at the famous Checkpoint Charlie.  Of course on our trips to the East Zone and to Berlin, we had to cross through the Wall and go through the careful passport control process on both sides.

As a public speaker, I am always looking for material and inspiration for my talks and sessions.  Courage and conviction are sometimes qualities that are discussed at seminars and consulting jobs. Imagine the courage and conviction of the freedom protesters in Leipzig and other East German towns who walked the streets calling for freedom in spite the fact that the authorities could have them killed or dissapeared in the bat of an eye. Imagine the courage and conviction of the riot Police and the secret Police who decided not to stop the protestors.

One day everyone in East Germany woke up from their sleep, had a boiled egg for breakfast and decided to no longer cooperate with the Communists. And just like that, the whole thing began to unravel.

What walls do we face today that need to come down?

What are the rules we could simply refuse to follow to allow a whole other level of oppression to unravel?

There are places in the world, even in our own country, where walls are coming up instead of coming down.

How should we feel about that?