Magazine article Russian Life

Tearing Down Walls

Magazine article Russian Life

Tearing Down Walls

Article excerpt

I AM WRITING this column on Russian Independence Day, June 12. It also happens to be the thirtieth anniversary of Ronald Reagan's 1987 speech at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, where he famously declared: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

In our increasingly complex, dangerous, and hyper-connected world, many are clamoring for more walls, more security, more surveillance.

This is an understandable reaction to uncertainty, terrorism and fear. But when we hear such calls, we would do well to remember the significance and horrors that were represented by the Berlin Wall--a barrier constructed not to keep out dangers, but to imprison powerless citizens.

(In most cases, prohibition, exclusion and segregation do not make a society stronger.) Instead, they tend to demonstrate its weaknesses and a breakdown of civility. Of course there are places where societies need walls (prisons, levees, impoundment lots). But more often what society needs is less walls and more of the things walls hinder: conversations, education and human discourse.

In this issue, we decided to remove what is often considered a rather sanctified journalistic wall. …

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