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Life Behind and Life Beyond the Steel Wall

We all have walls in our lives. Some are walls we have put up ourselves. Others have been put up for us. Some of the walls are well-meaning, erected out of concern, while others are thrown up by people or forces that would render us impotent, that would steal from us the fire and passion of living.
Most of our walls are built out of fear.
But we all have walls in our life. These are the ideas, institutions, attitudes, forces, even people sometimes, that keep us from realizing our true potential. They keep us from realizing who we really are, from enjoying life as it was meant to be enjoyed. They prevent us from beholding true glory and finding something deeper and greater to live for, and even die for, than anything our materialist, secular culture can offer.
The thing about walls is that they were all put up for some presumably good reason, to protect us from something. But due to its nature, every wall that is built to keep something out will inevitably keep something in. A village that erects a wall around its streets to protect it from bandits also restricts the movement of its citizens, bottles them up in narrow alleys that fester and swell and breed disease.
So it is with the institutions and authorities that come proclaiming new safeguards for our life. They vow to protect us, but inadvertently (sometimes)restrict us. Every promise of safety carries with it the threat of tyranny.
Other walls are those that promise us convenience, to make our life easier. Everywhere we turn life is full of them, labor saving devices and machines that enable us to do more faster. They are so loved and ubiquitous, so quiet and useful that we hardly give them any thought. And they have become so successful and efficient that hardly anything that we do takes any time at all. Food is ready in seconds, homes built in weeks, cars put together in a day. Thousands of products can be made in a single work shift, information is available almost instantly, and within a few hours we can traverse the breadth of the nation.
We love our machines and conveniences dearly, and at the same time can hardly imagine anything sinister coming from them. True, they make us a bit lazier from year to year, but do they also not spare us hours of drudgery that interfere with the real enjoyment of living?
The truth is that our conveniences and tools, though wonderful, also become walls. For what was a luxury yesterday becomes a necessity today and grows into a dependency tomorrow. The more labor we cede to machines the more power we give them. Labor and production are sources of power that we have come to underestimate. The Luddites understood this when they destroyed the looms made to replace their skill. If one could rely on machines then he no longer needs the man. And if production and labor are sources of power, and the machines labor and produce for us, then power is concentrated in the owners of the machines.
By accepting without question the benefits of these seemingly harmless conveniences we have allowed walls to be built around us that keep us dependent on the system that provides these conveniences. And because they provide us what we want, we will suffer at their hands so we might keep our conveniences, and also tie ourselves to our providers, staying within their influence and power for fear of going without.
Gradually, we become unable to provide for ourselves. When this situation reaches a critical point, if it has not already, and we are rendered totally helpless, unable to provide to provide the most basic need for ourselves and unwilling to go without the most extravagant luxury, then the walls that surround us become total and absolute.
Besides these there are other types of walls that we build up, or we allow to be built around us. But there is only one real reason why we let this happen. No matter what its nature, or what it is presumably made for, every wall is built out of fear.
Once again, think of the village wall. The stones rose higher and thicker only for fear of an enemy. Think of any law or restriction that we allow the government to impose upon us. They are all enacted to protect us from some danger of which we are afraid. Think of why you suffer through the drudgery of mindless work days, walled up in a cubicle or chained to a computer monitor. You are afraid of going without. Why is it you hesitate to pursue what it is you were made for? You are afraid to fail, to face derision and scorn, rejection, to be told that you and your dreams are worthless.
So we accept the walls that go up around us. True, they may guard us from some real or imagined terrors, but they also keep us from the glory that waits beyond.
When we accept walls we accept life in rigid limitation. Not that I suggest a life without boundaries, one so unbridled that it loses all shape and substance. Boundaries are nothing like walls. They are either self-imposed or natural, and lack the absolute nature of walls. On a map they may be clearly defined, but walk to that place and you will see no such dividing line. Boundaries are things to be respected, or kept out of respect.
And if the boundary is not arbitrary then it is natural, following the line of a river or mountain. And because of this we know that they should only be crossed with preparation and for good cause.
In short, boundaries are good things that bring order to our lives. Yet they are voluntary or natural restrictions, and if for some reason they need to be crossed, they can.
Walls on the other hand are not to be crossed, if for no other reason than that they are there. The wall is like the policy of the bureaucrat, applied in every and all situations, even when the application is absurd or violates the very reason the policy was originally set in place. The wall and the bureaucrat are rigid and unyielding. It is not respect they demand, but stupid and unreflective obedience.
And we all have walls in our life. Even though we do not need these walls we continue to tolerate them and even help rise them higher and higher. Perhaps worst of all we buy into the fiction that these barriers must be up, that we are better off with them, that we need them for life to go forward.
In truth, the only ones who benefit are the lords of the machines that make the rules of life within the wall. They need complicit labor, fearful citizens, addicted consumers, apathetic people and jaded idealists to keep the gears of the machine grinding out the bread of desperate living. They keep wealth and power, and the illusion that life is firmly under their control.
But that is only life behind the steel wall.
Beyond the steel wall a different world reigns. And there is nothing the lords of the machine fear more than what lies beyond the steel wall.
Though it may be dangerous, full of risk and peril, it is also full of glory and power. Though it may be dark at times, it is also full of light and mystery. Though there is the potential for failure, there is also the potential for greatness. And though many find death beyond the safety of our comfortable world, only outside of these walls can a man truly find life.

One Response to Life Behind and Life Beyond the Steel Wall

  1. we make so many walls that keep us from experiencing liberation and fulfillment. we enslave ourselves.
    thanks for posting.

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