Schlagwort-Archive: Wall

What border crossings are about

There was a time when Berlin was surrounded by a wall that made the city an island. At some point, you hit in West Berlin in all directions the wall, with only a few loopholes. Even today, the nocturnal journey through the former Checkpoint Charlie is still a noticeable border crossing, even without control and the wall. One dives from the white light of the West Berlin mercury vapor lamps and fluorescent tubes into the warm light of the East Berlin sodium vapor lamps. Even the attentive pedestrian notices that the traffic light man suddenly wears a hat. That’s what border crossings are about.

All kinds of systems live from the fact that something belongs to them and a lot of others do not. Often these boundaries are not so clearly marked. For this reason, it is important to be attentive to notice a passage from one system to another. The following aspects provide a simple grid to facilitate border crossings in a way that nobody takes any harm.

  • Context
    The space offers many recognizable boundaries – rivers, mountains, roads, walls, etc. Not every limitation automatically leads to an area with new regulations. However, it is very likely that something is changing, when you are exchanging the environment. Anyone who lives close to a river, on the left or right bank, knows these differences. Time also divides incessantly. Be it the past from the present or the present from the future or the before from the after. A border crossing also takes place when you enter a country after a long-haul flight by crossing the passenger boarding bridge – many passengers return home and others become aliens.
    You become aware of the context through these questions: Where am I? At what time?
  • Activity
    Especially diverse systems set up fields of activities or professions. Each type of employment creates a closed system with determined conditions, where those who belong to it understand each other. The others are excluded. This can be recognized by the clothing, the tools or the technical jargon – kick-off, throw-in, penalty, header, off-side (who might this be?). For outsiders, it is a kind of foreign language that must be learned.
    Quick access to the meaning could be achieved by asking: What is being done? What’s it called?
  • Abilities
    Over time, the abilities have become more and more specialized. However, it is possible to define areas of knowledge that together form a closed subject area, which in turn consists of specialized subsystems, which in turn … etc. This leads to different abilities between electro and thermos dynamicists or quantum physicists as well as to barriers of understanding between branches. The associated languages form further boundaries that demarcate or ostracize. Access to a different culture is made possible above all by the corresponding language competence – if Europeans speak of thinking, they point to the head, while Japanese tend to point to the heart.
    Overcoming this border is made possible by questions like – How do you do it? What do you have to learn?
  • Convictions
    The mental models of the members of a system are difficult to explore, because they only have an effect in the minds of the people. They become visible in the context, the actions and the demonstrated skills. The convictions form the mortar that connects groups of all kind. The crossing of the border is recognizable by the reactions of the people. If one violates their beliefs, like certain rituals or behavioral norms, then one is sanctioned without delay. At the same time, one is trapped in one’s own mental buildings – if, for example, justice is determined unilaterally. For some, a prison sentence is the worst, for others a flogging – although the need for punishment is common to both..
    The edge of convictions can be determined by cautious enquiries: How do you say that? What do you have to do?
  • Role
    A special form of border exists between roles. These are exceeded daily again and again – once you are an employee, then a boss, then a colleague, then a spouse, then a father, then a friend, then a member of the association, etc. In business life, roles are sometimes described in writing with task, authority and responsibility. The previous aspects (see above) are also different for each role – e.g. the different languages of the boss, the spouse and the association member.
    That’s why all the questions that were mentioned so far are raised here, as well as: What role is this? Which AKVs are included?
  • Affiliation
    The affiliation is the most difficult border because it hides fundamental aspects. Here the superordinate context of meaning and basic questions of life find deeply anchored answers. Fundamental borders, which are difficult to move, are formed by religions as well as economic and political systems. They are based on the personal belief and the bonds with one’s own roots.
    In order to cross these borders, respectful questions are necessary: What does that mean? What do I have to pay attention to?

Bottom line: We are constantly crossing borders unreflectively. Any border crossing can lead to a conflict. For this reason, it is important to be continuously aware of the limits. For this purpose one observes the context in which one finds oneself, the actions that happen, the abilities that become visible, the convictions that become recognizable, the roles that exist and the affiliation that characterizes the other side of the border. Borders lead to demarcation and ostracism, sometimes intentional and sometimes unintentional. Crossing borders is unavoidable, but can happen with the respective awareness in a way that nobody gets harmed. These are some aspects that border crossings are about.

The wall – ideal metaphor for boundary

The Great Wall will remain with its over 21.000 km for the foreseeable future the largest border of the world, despite the installation between the US and Mexico with its over 3100 km long fence. The 24 km long fence close to Ceuta, die160 km of the former Berlin wall and the 759 km long barrier construction between Israel and the West Jordan territory show that the oldest form of territorial delineation is still used. The aspects of a boundary can be shown wth the example of a wall.

There are Boundaries with and without walls. Natural border lines always arose along waters, deserts and mountains. As soon as those dividing lines run straight on a map, they are artificially created, as for example the northern border of the US between Buffalo point and Vancouver. Former colonies can tell a tale of it. Why are walls still built despite our todays global mindset?

  • Determination
    In the simplest case, ownership structures are indicated with a fortified border. One marks the surfaces that belong to a territory and separates them thereby from their environment. As an island that is surrounded by water and separated from other landmasses, the border determines a territory that belongs together, in which certain rules, convictions and behaviors are valid. In many cultures a wall defines the family sphere. The Hutongs in China and the properties in Arab countries are surrounded by high rising walls that are built even before the construction of the house starts.
  • Containment
    Walls are always a barrier for those, who are inside. Thus, it is an ideal means, in order to prevent that someone or something leaves a certain area unchecked. That is not only valid for prisons, but also for industrial facilities that prevent that way theft. The surrounded area can be better controlled and secured with this frame. The boundary creates a hurdle that ensures the control in the interior. The confinement is perceived as more or less unpleasant depending upon its size. In the earlier city island of Berlin the border was never far away. A large country that drags on across several time zones stimulates thereby sometimes the impression of boundless vastness. But our comparable mental walls are built through our education and experiences. In extreme cases, we are in an information bubble that we cannot leave, since we are limited to the information that is provided.
  • Exclusion
    Outside of the wall you find the other people, who are forced by the border to remain outside. Over time the different becomes strange, threatening and unwanted. This leads to the fact that the inhabitants get closer together, define themselves through exclusion and polarize more and more against the strangers. The border prevents the necessary open exchange of goods and opinions. Incomprehensibly those separatists follow thereby the wrong way of North Korea. We observe excesses of this exclusion until today. Surprisingly former victims of such exclusion do not hesitate to show their current racism and to live their intolerance publically. That reaches from the illegal building of settlements in the West Jordan territory, to the secured residential facilities (so-called Gated Communities) in many countries.

Borders create above all orientation – this belongs together and that does not belong to it. The wall is the symbol of a border between A and B. Within some laws are valid and outside some others. Thus, a border by itself is helpful, informative and practical. However, as soon as borders are misused to lock up or out, they become dangerous. Currently the pendulum swings back to the nation statehood. The walls are built again – mentally and physically.

Bottom line: Borders are an important tool, in order to specify a coherent territory, where a common identity and common bases exist. This creates security and comfort. At the same time borders are used, in order to lock up and out people. The wall clarifies this situation. For this reason it is an ideal metaphor for boundary.