EDITORIAL: Of walls and Independent thought

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As our world moves towards increased cultural and political divisiveness, we have searched for the answer to “why?”  Why have we, both globally and nationally, done an about face on the open arms approach towards our brothers and sisters and retreated towards a more insular strategy. Instead of hearing echoes of Ronald Reagan telling Gorbachev to “tear down this wall!” we now hear chants of “Build that wall!”. All in a matter of just 30 years.
Both those quotes are attributed to the holders of the Office of the President of the United States. That supposedly glowing beacon of morality and righteousness shining around the world. The first, and more promising demand, came from a speech made by U.S. President Ronald Reagan on June 12, 1987 while he was in West Berlin. He called on Mikhail Gorbachev, the leader of the Soviet Union to get rid of the physical barrier that had been erected to divide East and West Berlin in 1961. The second quote is attributed to the current President of the United States, Donald Trump, and to his supporters, who are demanding the erection of an immigration wall on the border of the United States and Mexico.  
The Berlin Wall carried great symbolism. It symbolised everything that was the Cold War – it was the physical embodiment of the division in the philosophical difference between the communist
Soviet bloc and the western democratic bloc, but most of all, it represented freedom or the lack of it, depending on your perspective.  It eventually fell and the world has been a better place ever since because the decision was in-line with the will of the people.
These walls represented humans’ reluctance to accept a difference of opinion and independent thought. However, if examined closely, they represent the minority view of the politicians and selfish special interests. The majority of right thinking people have little appetite for more barriers being erected in their lives. And that goes for physical, emotional, political, philosophical or anything else.  
That said, it is easy to point to the politicians as the villains, but if we honestly examine the situation, we will see that the villains only have the power to execute their plans of divisive control if they have support or silence. And it is the silence that is the most detrimental because it turns us into sheep to be led by the shepherd in a direction that best suits him or her.
Our abdication of our responsibility to think for ourselves and instead adopt another’s logic and philosophies is the most sinister sleight of hand trick played on our psyche by politicians. It is the core of the ‘divide and conquer’ strategy. Politicians convince the people that they have their best interests at heart and eventually the people abdicate their decision making to the politicians. They become blind followers and therefore must defend the behaviours and decisions which are made on their behalf. Independent thinking gets lost because people now feel the need to defend the decisions made on their behalf.
It may seem like a complicated concept but it is really quite simply and that is the genius of the divide and conquer strategy. We see it everyday in our bit of paradise.  Politicians display the most unprofessional and unnecessary behaviour and people jump to their defence.  It is automatic.  No real thought, no deep analysis, just a knee-jerk response to criticism because it is, by extension, criticism of all the followers.
At a party level, independent thinkers in the group are shut down and forced to comply or remain silent.  They are taught that the shepherd leads and the flock follows. No questions necessary.  In public, others, who voice concern are branded as the enemy. Even though that “enemy” may be your friendly neighbour. It is so obvious, yet we accept it and forfeit our rights and power in the process.
Erecting the walls of political divisiveness benefits only the politicians and the moneyed interests that they serve. If we were to seize and exercise the power of independent thought, politicians will not be the revered characters that they are today, but would return to their rightful place as servants to the people. That would be a blow that many political egos and bank accounts could not handle. But that is the rightful allocation of power.
It is always amazing to see people of limited means doing all of the heavy lifting in political campaigns. They fight for what is right for the politician and the party without giving any thought as to whether what they are blindly supporting is right for them.  One day, we must all realise that we are the prize and the politician should beg us for our opinion so that they can properly serve us and all our brothers and sisters.  
If we tear down the political walls between us, we may finally see that the only reason we have not seen eye to eye, is because there was a wall between us. A wall that has been erected by the politicians to blind us.
We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.

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