One of the benefits of having flown over one million miles, and having conducted business in over seventy countries, is that I have become a citizen of the world. I have been blessed to visit many of the faraway regions and exotic cultures that I once only read about. I have built friendships with people of every ethnicity and race that you could imagine!
I have stood atop the Great Wall of China and marveled at the ancient feat of engineering, stretching as far as the eye can see. I have traced my fingers along Hadrian’s Wall and felt a connection to the Romans who toiled for decades to build the barrier. The awe-inspiring power of pure faith has overcome me as I was dwarfed by the Wailing Wall. Throughout Europe, Asia, and all corners of the world; I have been fortunate to witness the greatest fortifications ever erected by humanity!
Even in our everyday lives we are confronted with a series of barriers. The majority of the homes in my neighborhood are ringed by six-foot tall privacy fences. Larger businesses are fortified by high reaching chain link fences, often topped by a string of barbed wire. Everywhere you look, somebody has gone to the intentional trouble of placing a boundary between you and them!
In some cases, this makes perfect sense. Homeowners want to keep pets from straying or children from wandering off. Businesses want to assure that their goods do not suddenly disappear. But for the most part, these modern wooden or metal walls are designed to keep other people out! I cannot argue with thousands of years of genetic coding that has instilled the need to protect ourselves from the world around us! Or can I?
How many walls do you put up in an average day? Barriers can serve a purpose; protecting us from the harm that might be wrought by others. Yet building a wall is a very time-consuming process. On top of that, the walls you put up must be maintained. We must assure that no stone is loose or we need to constantly evaluate the potential of greater threats. Should the wall be taller or thicker? In some cases, much like our ancestors; we find ourselves building new walls around the ones previously erected!
As we erect these mental barriers, we are faced with a dilemma. If we keep everybody out, how can we let anybody in? Each of us is scarred with the traumas of our past. We have all been hurt or disappointed. It is called the human experience! It is only natural that we seek not to repeat past experiences. Yet as we shut the world out, so too do we lessen ourselves! It does not take long for us to become emotional hermits and societal shut-ins! We choose not to take risks with other people, retreating instead behind the security of our bastions. In the process, we lose the precious gift of human connection!
As I stated earlier, I am a student of cultures. Thousands of years ago, the American Indian tribes developed their versions of culture as well. One philosophy was shared by all of these diverse tribes. It was the simple concept that nothing in life could be owned. Instead, we were all stewards of the world bequeathed to us. In short, we were renters throughout our lives. The concept of building a wall, whether to keep others in or out, would have been an alien thought to any of the Indians. They elected to follow their faith that all things were in harmony and that their safety was preserved by a higher power.
Look inside that great manor house that is called you. How many walls have you built between yourself and family? How many potential friends have you shunned behind your ramparts? What slice of the beauty called humanity have you cheated yourself out of, all in the name of security? When you are ready, I will be happy to hand you a pick and shovel. Then together we can haul away the bricks and mortar from your old walls!