This week the World celebrated the 25th anniversary of the pulling down of the Berlin wall. It was an event that paved the way for the reunification of Germany and put the nation on the road to economic recovery that would make it one of the strongest economies in the world today. The East Germans had built the wall in 1961 claiming that they didn’t want the citizens of the “Democratic Republic” to serve “West Germany’s “Historically outdated social order”. In other words they wanted to be free from, and independent of the corruptive influence of a West Germany that was toadying to the capitalist west. However the Berlin wall only lasted for twenty eight years, as East Germans quickly realized that the freedom they thought they had was merely substituting one, regime for another harsher one, and that they were better off living in a Unified Germany, they began the series of protests and demonstrations that brought the wall down in November of 1989.
On Sunday the citizens of Catalunya, organized a largely symbolic referendum to show that they wanted separation from Spain. The excuse the Catalans gave was that they were an independent Kingdom until King Philip V of Spain annexed them in 1710, and that they want to govern themselves and determine their own future without being told what to do from Madrid.
In a world which is characterized by increasing nationalism and in which there is an increasing demand for violent revolutions and border redrawing, the lessons from the Berlin wall are in danger of being forgotten. An important lesson in this case, is that freedom, rights and independence isn’t what what the politicians paint it as. The case of Catalunya is particularly worthy of note, because the kingdom of Spain which Catalunya is trying to separate from, has being battling economic recession over the last few years. Thus if and when the separation ever happens, the first thing the Catalan Government has to do is to show that they can succeed where where the Spanish Government is currently struggling, while I am neither Catalan nor economist but I dont see, how a tiny principality can cope with separation from Spain, especially as every European nation is currently battling economic crisis. While Germany is providing a rallying point for every one else, it can only do so much. It is not enough to demand for freedom and independence, one must know what do with the freedom and independence, or it would have no point. Nationalism may birth a nation, but it is doubtful if it will suffice when it is time to spell the big words and do the difficult calculations, as the East german authorities found out. Scotland was in the same position a few months ago, but cooler heads who I presume took a long term view of the issue prevailed. And I still feel the both Scotland and the UK will only be better for it.
In a world where those of us who live in democracies pride ourselves on the amount of rights and freedom and independence that we have and we look upon those who live in iron curtain countries like they are rats in an evil villain’s laboratory, it is easy for us to carry the illusion of freedom overboard. Often politicians and activists jump on the bandwagon for freedom and independence without pausing to think through the implications for that independence. The example that readily comes to mind is South Sudan, they demanded for independence from Sudan in order to stop the violence against their people, yet the newest nation on earth is in danger of being destroyed by conflict occasioned by the new freedom less than a decade into its existence. The same case in nearby Egypt, the same revolution that removed Hosni Mubarak has created turmoil in the nation leading to the endless cycle of violence that has left the country struggling for its survival. While this piece is not advocating for tyrannical rulers like Mubarak and Gaddafi, it is just pointing out that sometimes the protection of the mother hen’s wing may look like a prison, but the little chick soon understands its necessity when it is left to fend for itself and face the hawk on its own.
While this treatise does not dispute the fact that freedom can bring several positive changes, with such examples as the fight against apartheid in South Africa, and racial segregation in the United States of America, and several others like them, it must point out that democracy as the system of Government could get overrated. Often freedom means the citizens have no inclination to trust the government, and they will undermine it verbally and any other way they can. Add that with the extremely transient nature of the government, one would notice that democracy if followed in its true spirit is only astep away from anarchy. If a baby could think in that direction, it would probably wonder why God cannot allow it to verbalize its feelings, but given that babies are not cognitively developed enough to know what not say and when not to say it, as anyone who has lived with a five year old can attest to, it is a definitely smart decision for God to make sure they cannot do more than gurgle and drool.
So if there is something that we can learn from the Berlin wall, it is that Government no matter its nomenclature is just a group of douchebags asserting control over a large group of citizens. Before you go start writing those placards to demand for this or that right or this or that freedom, keep in mind that that unless it serves some higher purpose, freedom, democracy, independence and revolution are completely overrated.