It’s a little hazy. The photograph has lost its clarity. The time has lost its surety. We have all become a little vague in the snapshot of history.
Back then history was being created. The iron fist of Soviet imperialism and ideological subjugation had run its course and the real world was breaking through. Western democracy was drawing out the poison from a totalitarian regime and, along the way, freeing its people to participate in its dream of meritocracy. The world was safe.
I heard that the creative arts fell back somewhat after the wall came down. Writers, painters, poets and dancers suddenly lived in a world that was free. The thing that had covered their skies for so long was now no more. There was, for the masses, that thing called freedom. The Soviet was no more. Life could only get better.
So, in came the nineties. Some of the older despots were pushed into retirement. new politicians took the stage and the people were their audience. Things were possible. There was a chance to marry materialism to socialism. Not only could we be well-off, we could be well-intentioned. Old conflicts such a Northern Ireland were negotiated towards a peace-deal and Protestants and Catholics stopped killing each other.
For a short time there appeared to be hope. We could move forward as a world, destroy inequalities, learn from past mistakes. The wall had truly come down and we were free to simply be.
And yet we can’t be without our blanket of economic security, no matter how flimpsy that protection really is. Another Wall Street. Another crash. And all that was good with the world was gone. From hope to despair within three short decades.
And we all ought to stop and think about how much this is all worth. As people break through borders to find new hope. As countries rebuild borders to keep them out. As America builds borders with its neighbours.
What is it all worth?