Sep/Oct 2018 Current Moscow Time: 07:15:37
24 September 2018

  The world’s biggest country, in a magazine. Since 1956.


Author: Paul E. Richardson

July/August 2017
Page 4   ( 1 pages)

Summary: On where we want and don't want walls.


I am writing this column on Russian Independence Day, June 12. It also happens to be the thirtieth anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s 1987 speech at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, where he famously declared: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

In our increasingly complex, dangerous, and hyper-connected world, many are clamoring for more walls, more security, more surveillance.

This is an understandable reaction to uncertainty, terrorism and fear. But when we hear such calls, we would do well to remember the significance and horrors that were represented by the Berlin Wall – a barrier constructed not to keep out dangers, but to imprison powerless citizens.

In most cases, prohibition, exclusion and segregation do not make a society stronger. Instead, they tend to demonstrate its weaknesses and a breakdown of civility. Of course there are places where societies need walls (prisons, levees, impoundment lots). But more often what society needs is less walls and more of the things walls hinder: conversations, education and human discourse.

In this issue, we decided to remove what is often considered a rather sanctified journalistic wall. It is generally accepted journalistic practice that those involved in a cause should not be the ones writing about it. They, of course, cannot be objective. So an outsider should be sent in to see the forest for the trees, to cast a critical, balanced eye on things.

And yet, often the insertion or embedding of an outside observer leads to the sort of unbalanced view one gets from seeing something the first time, and only from a single perspective.

So in this issue we have two articles (Saving the Seals, p. 28, and The Abandoned, p. 40) that were contributed by individuals involved with the cause that is being written about. In both instances, I feel it offers a revealing insider perspective and a very different view than would have been achieved by outsider coverage.

I also find it interesting (this was actually not explicitly planned) that both stories center on volunteer efforts for the care and healing of animals. How a community and a society relates to the innocents in its midst tells us much about its soul.

In short, I’m glad we decided to ignore that wall.

Enjoy the issue.

To read more, follow the "Purchase Back Issue" link from the full story listing for this issue.