Breaching the Wall

Tonight, I raise my glass.

To the Berlin Wall, and its glorious fall. To those past and present under oppression, to their victories, and to the future – of an ever-going cycle of suppression, upheaval, change and progress.

Berlin Wall

Even after 25 years, the Berlin Wall evokes both oppression and freedom.

I feel a strange kinship to the Berliner Mauer, as I toast tonight to the 25th anniversary of its fall. As a twenty-five-year-old with a solid German heritage, I cannot help but marvel at the symbol the Berlin Wall has become. Thirty-eight years, a stark token of fear and imprisonment; now, its surviving pieces represent the people’s triumph, exuberance and freedom.

Yet the actual dismantling occurred much later –  lasting until 1992. While a fast move for any governmental body, let alone a country cloven in two, it serves to remind us that any movement requires monumental effort to reach the breaking point – yet even more to keep the ball going.

Every age has its movements and struggles. While we don’t have a physical construct to pin our angst against, the struggle is quite real: same sex marriage (and quelling homophobia and other sexual orientation discrimination), racial discrimination (yes, Virginia, we’re still dealing with it), women’s rights (which is still jeopardized and belittled on a daily basis; read this New York Times opinion just for a taste of it). And in the current political climate (in which real change is a joke), we aren’t getting any help. Many are bypassing legislature altogether in favor of the judicial system – and while often favoring the people’s will, it still costs more and lasts longer than we can afford.

But we can’t give up hope. The wall didn’t come down in a day, and any meaningful change will take great effort – both in numbers and effort.

Find a blog. Find a nonprofit. Join an organization and start volunteering. The government might no longer hear its voters, but someday we will make it hear its people.

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