Monday, November 23, 2009

There are walls - and there are walls

There are walls - and there are walls.

Recently the world was in raptures over the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. I have early memories of the Berlin Wall. One of my first run ins with the Establishment was being scolded by a Dept. of Education robot masquerading as a teacher in infants school, for drawing a very basic picture of the Berlin wall with tanks on either side.

During a reign of terror that tore families apart and caused decades of human misery on either side of its cruel defenses, at least 287 people died trying to cross.

That figure rather surprises me, because throughout its existence I, and I would assume many others, were under the impression that the death toll was far higher. The iconic symbol of the Cold War, was seen as a death trap, striking at victims like some sort of concrete Venus Fly Trap.

There are other walls. But it seems that walls - just like any other social or political cause - are more fashionable than others.

For example, although I am sure many are aware of existence, I wonder just how many know as much as the wall dividing the USA and Mexico as they do about the Berlin Wall? Built in 1994, the 3,141 kilometers long wall has claimed the lives of an estimated 5.6 thousand people (source: GAO- accounting office of the White House).

Has it become a fashionable, iconic symbol of freedom - a rallying call for the oppressed? The hell it has. It's not fashionable you see - no percentage in it for the Citizen Smiths of this world, the battle hardened freedom fighters from the battle fields of Latte Coffee shops.

At least the wall separating Israel from Palestinian territory in the West Bank gets a bit more attention. According to Pravda, the total length of the barrier is 721 km, of which 58.04 % is built, 8.96% under construction and 33% to be built.

How many know of the Brazilian defensive wall - and I am not talking about a bunch of footballers guarding their crown jewels. Imagine if you will, a wall of reinforced concrete three meters high separating the slums from the poorer parts of the city? That is what is happening in Brazil (Pravda).

But is not only walls that are fashionable and oh so chic - so are people. Bono, the lead singer of a pub band, denied access to then Prime Minister John Howard on the logical basis that he doesn't discuss Australian issues with overseas pop singers, struts around the world stage shamelessly wearing his self-righteous hypocrisy with as much pride as his naff sunnies.

Then we have Nelson Mandela - the darling of the rent-a-cause mob. I recently mentioned on i On Global Trends that Mandela and his wife had been awarded a prestigious child rights award worth $160,000.

The Decade Child Rights Heroes award was awarded to Mandela for helping to promote children's rights over the past ten years. Rather surprising when one considers that during his Presidency, he did very little to promote the rights of anyone - especially the rights of AIDS victims. It was not until he personally realized the effects of AIDS on the victim and their families, that he began to take an interest. By then it was too late and too little.

In over four and a half years of publishing i On Global Trends, I have posted hundreds of articles on child rights - and those battling at the coal face to help society's most vulnerable. Yet not one of these articles mentions Mandela or his wife.

There are those who deserve awards far more than the Mandelas, the Bonos and the Geldofs of this world. But they don't prance around in gaudy shirts like some sort of geriatric British tourist on the Cost de Bognor, or lecture others on what they should be doing.

You wont see their faces, you wont hear their voices. They are far too busy working to protect the rights of the children, the rights of the oppressed - and trying to survive without the protection of minders built like brick outhouses, while doing so.

Copyright Mike Hitchen Online, Lane Cove, NSW, Australia. All rights reserved