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11/9 20th Anniversary of the Berlin Wall Coming Down

One of my earliest political memories is The Day The Wall Came Down.

I was too young to notice or understand, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." To have an informed opinion on the presidential elections. To have any comprehension of perestroika or glasnost. But in Social Studies class, we had to bring in news articles on current events, and about half the class had brought in a story about The Berlin Wall.

I still had no idea what was going on, let alone what it all meant, but I knew that Something Big Was Happening.

And now, 20 years later, capitalism vs communism has all but disappeared from public discourse; the talk now skews towards Islam and The West. And here I sit, an American living in a Muslim country, heir of Washington and Payne living in a kingdom, eyeball to eyeball with cultures and customs completely different from those I grew up with.

The world shrinks daily.

20 years ago, a massive obstacle...crumbled. Was torn down, brick from brick, by a jubilant mob. Today, the biggest comparable barrier snakes through the Holy Land; another is under construction from the Rio Grande to the Pacific.

But if we learned anything 20 years ago, it was that no wall stands forever*. That any barrier, chasm, gulf, wall, ultimately permeable, because the human spirit cannot be bound by physical obstacles.

So as I stand on the conceptual frontier between Islam and the West, I'm living that. Every day, I find more things in common with my Moroccan friends and family. Yes, we hold different beliefs, attitudes, expectations...but we're still united by far more than divides us.

And the "Goal 2 and 3" work that I do - like writing this blog, for instance - I do to lay bricks in the bridge between my two communities and cultures, and to help knock down any imagined walls in the minds of my friends on either side.

And just think - simply by reading this, you're helping me in that work.

Thank you.

*OK, before you quibble about the Great Wall of China - that one's not a barrier anymore, it's architecture. It's not preventing the free movement of anyone who wants to cross it - or if it is, that's a news story that deserves some attention, 'cause I've never heard of it.

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