Figurative Walls Essay, Research Paper
Walls are a part of everyday experience. We’ve lived within metaphorical, abstract, real and imagined walls from birth. Most of us were delivered in a hospital, and even from that moment, we were contained within the walls of protection that the doctors and our new parents gave us. Where else do walls incorporate more of who we are as individuals and as a society?
Our nations are founded upon one and perhaps many different economic and political foundations. Some of these systems of government are based on nobility and the inherited right to rule. Others, like the United States, are founded upon principals of democracy and republicanism. These ideologies create walls for each of us. For example, in the caste system of earlier India, a person was born into a particular sect and he or she could never rise above that position, and so as an extreme example, this system of government and societal rule created virtually unbreakable walls. In the United States, a much looser system of social walls exists, and even our Constitution promises that man have the unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. However, these walls have different meanings to different people in our country. To the blacks during the civil rights movements and before, segregation put very real barriers to their freedoms, and women today still fight to break through corporate, social, and economic barriers that prevent them from enjoying the same freedoms white men tend to possess. Overall, the walls we create on these levels certainly have different meanings for each of us, but doubtless they exist.
Along the same lines, we people create walls that guard our personal space. In Latin American countries, people have a very small personal space, and so they would think nothing of approaching a stranger and having a passionate conversation maybe 5 inches away from that other person. On the other extreme Finnish society has established very distant personal space that is so removed, the country has had to create a system of mechanical “dances” the citizens go to, to meet other people. In fact, the Finland people use a system of lights that instruct the people when they are supposed to meet someone else. Again, these walls certainly exist in an abstract way, but to all people they are very real.
In a more intimate way, we have walls that gradually melt as we begin to know someone more and more. Usually with a stranger, our walls tend to be very solid, and we have definite boundaries we would not let that person cross. And it isn’t necessarily a spoken rule, rather our body language governs the rules about how close a person can get. And of course, the physical walls we hold dear almost completely give way when we find a new love. Of course, walls are very prevalent on other levels in sexual relationships. Granted, the physical walls may be removed, but emotional walls wane and ebb depending on how close we feel to that person. When a couple is fighting, their walls will be very guarded as they feel hurt and anger towards each other.
Intellectual walls can separate us too, although this one tends to work a little differently than the other walls discussed. When someone is extremely intelligent, and when they allow their walls of arrogance and pride to be removed, they can interact with just about anyone on any level with another person who is capable of sharing ideas. On the other extreme, if someone is intellectually challenged, his or her ability to share a broad range of creative and inspirational ideas may be greatly decreased. And so walls of sorts exist even here.
These metaphorical walls are only a tiny fraction of the walls that we encounter in everyday life. Walls, ranging from the fences between two neighborhood yards to the racial barriers sometimes put between interracial couples, all affect or lives more then we realize. In writing and forcing myself to recognize these walls I realize that more often then not they re a problem that needs to be faced. I think people should be forced to look at these walls like I did so that they might see that they are a problem. The sooner we face these walls the sooner they will be broken down.