Sunday, July 02, 2006

Building boundaries

This is an article published in the last issue of the Ovi magazine - Ovi lehti

It is nearly twenty years since the fall of the Berlin wall and other walls seem to come just to remind us that boundaries are still here. The USA government builds a wall on the border with Mexico and Israel continues its wall to separate the Jewish population from the Palestinians ignoring borders and agreements.

The walls don't just keep the outsiders out, but keeps the citizens prisoners to their own prejudices and boundaries. Boundaries because there is no other way to describe what's happening. Between the USA and Cuba there is a sea with sharks and wild waves, but has this ever stopped the illegal immigration the last 40 years? Why will a wall stop the Mexicans from illegally crossing the borders?

Walls only hide their own boundaries and by putting their head in the sand like an ostrich and avoiding the real problem. The solution should be found first before moving to building a wall. Prejudice has become a boundary for both Palestinians and Israelis. For every Israeli a Palestinian is a terrorist ready to kill everybody who is around. For every Palestinian, an Israeli represents the invader and murderer of children who occupies their land.

Palestine and Israel are extreme examples but you have only to check the news to see how many boundaries are around us in every single part of the world. Boundaries that have to do with nearly everything: color, religion, education, sexuality, past, future, cooking, language, accent, the list is endless.

Studying psychology I came across the question if you should cast people in wider teams and groups. Following what most of my professors said, I decided that every individual was exceptional and despite similarities you have to treat every patient individually and take care of his/her own individual needs. Somehow the same applies with the boundaries.

Before we move to social boundaries we have to do something with our personal boundaries. In a conversation we started with a friend in Ovi forum about the leader of the left alliance in Finland I found that the word 'communist' had become a taboo. It was a boundary for him and the etiquette was enough for him to expel the woman to the worst hell without any excuses.

In a conversation at a party a few months ago, a young man from Turkey could only talk about Cyprus emphasizing my Greek origins, which was traumatic since the only thing I wanted was to have a joyful couple of hours and drink a few pints of beer. In the end I felt like a representative of the Greek Foreign Office occasionally saying things I didn't really agree with.

For a certain Iranian who lives in Helsinki every American, as a principal, is a bad guy, a supporter of George W. Bush and it doesn't matter how twisted he's expressing himself his true is the only true. All of us added together combine to make society and we have the liberty to express ourselves and aware whether or not to influence people around us. The fight against boundaries should start from each one of us individually.

I was really careful in the examples I used because racism and prejudice is not a far step from these boundaries. For as long as we acknowledge that there are boundaries there is hope and we must never forget that we all have our boundaries one way or another.

To cross the line is not difficult and the anti-Americanism of the Iranian becomes hate to anything American blinding him as a consequence and leading him to prejudice against innocent people making him no different than the usual skinheads. If that Turkish man would have crossed the line of his boundaries we could have both really had a good time drinking our pints and talking about the Finnish weather and football, instead of a tense half-an-hour and then avoiding one another for the rest of the night.

Having a kid, especially a daughter, has made me more aware of the boundaries I will have to cross in the next few years and the only thing I can think of is how the hell can I forbid my daughter from doing nothing more than the same things I did when I was a kid and a teenager. I think by just doing that I will have become a better person and my daughter might live in a society without a need for etiquettes and walls.

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