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Friday, January 10, 2014

Permeable Walls???

by Dawne Davis
A vertical structure that is intended to divide, enclose or protect an area. A wall. There are walls in my hotel room.  They are intended to delineate my space from another room and provide privacy to me from the person in the room(s) next to me.  Inside my room the walls are decorated with pictures or are mounted with items that serve a function, like the light fixtures or the beverage caddy to house the teas, cups and hot water kettle.

In Derry/Londonderry, we find walls of remembrance.  Murals of a conflicted past that remain
symbolic of the present division of people in Northern Ireland.  These murals are located on the sides of homes and businesses.  In Belfast we also find murals as in Derry/Londonderry, murals in solidarity with other peoples in current civil unrest. Murals pledging "Never Again".  But most striking, in 2014, there are 45 foot high walls situated between neighborhoods.  Almost unimaginable that these dividing walls still stand.

Personally coming from an African-American heritage, there were were walls for me and my ancestry, but they were invisible.  I like to believe this invisibility was beneficial in creating space for dialogue leading to improved civil liberties.  Merely seeing into the lives of others, even if just a glimpse, develops an understanding and familiarity.  How do you have a dialogue to build peace, when these imposing structures, stark reminders, continue to exist?

Perhaps the four hundred year old 'Wall' in Derry/Londonderry can serve as a symbol of a path forward.  The Wall is permeable.  Stairs that take you on and off the wall and open gates allow one to pass through; similarly dialogue for permanent peace can also begin to flow.  Hopefully the walls in Belfast can begin to be removed, even if only bit by bit.  This is progress.

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