On Waking Up

on 09 November 2009

I've been soaking in clips like this one:

And I'll tell you why. And where. And how.

We were living in Washington. In a small town. I had just begun my freshman year, and great was the misery thereof. But my father had the presence of mind, that when he turned on the nightly news and saw coverage of the Berlin Wall falling, he came to my room, to my brother's room. He woke us up, saying, "Get up. You must see this." We stumbled out to the living room, to the television and we watched as History un-built the most symbolic edifice that the modern world has known.

We watched, wide awake as people, people so like us, cheered, chanted, climbed, danced, and cried. We went back to bed. But the real awakening happened years later.

I came to understand the significance of that night many years later. The Berlin Wall was not just a wall of brick and mortar. It wasn't just an act of an oppressive government. It wasn't just a tool of communism. It was a physical representation of something that exists inside all of us. The walls that manifest themselves in our minds, that keep us back from other people, other places; the walls that divide us and blind us, that keep us from uniting as human beings and from becoming better versions of ourselves.

I watch this clip and others like it, and I feel like I'm floating on a sea of hope. It's this euphoria of knowing that if we as a people can tear down this monument of our darker parts, then we can surely be a bit better today, we can try harder and work a little longer. We can be kinder, more patient, more open and loving than we have been. And more than We, I can do these things.

We live in a hard world. I tell the Boy that more often than I should. I don't want him to fear the world, but nor do I want him to expect life to be easy. I wish that I could give him a better world, more just, more peaceful. But then I remember that in my life I saw history change, I watched the world change. And I wonder, what will he see in his life? How will the world change and remake itself?