A world less divided [Archives:2007/1064/Viewpoint]

July 2 2007

Political indicators show that today, despite the claims of globalisation and connectivity the world is growing further apart. “It's a small world after all” seems a less accurate line especially that countries are building physical walls to keep the unwanted “others” at bay.

The situation in Yemen is no exception. More talk is being heard about the differences between people from the south and north, people from the cities and the tribal areas, or between different classes. The categorization is starting to take physical terms through segregation of communities and labelling towns.

In old times, the class system was so cruel that segregation took place physically. There were designated roads and locations for the “lower class” people and others for the “higher classes”. These days ethnicity and the social system has intermingled with the economic status, you will find people who used to be considered of “higher race” living in shacks with people of the “lower race” because they all are poor.

These days, not only are there places or avenues designated for the rich, but also they build extremely high fences, sometimes with barbed wires surrounding their homes, sending a loud “Keep Out” message.

Building walls and fences is not only an individual behavior. In a May essay by Simon Robinson of the TIME, he talks about material barriers built between nations.

Pakistan is considering building a fence or a minefield in its border with Afghanistan. India began building a wall part mud and part razor wire along its boarder with Pakistan in 1980s. It is also constructing a fence along its boarder with Bangladesh.

Iran is building a bulwark along its border with Pakistan. Botswana erected a 480 km electric fence along its boundary with Zimbabwe. Saudi Arabia is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on massive ramparts to separate itself from Yemen to the south and from Iraq to the north. Thailand wants a concrete barrier along part of its border with Malaysia. The U.S. is erecting a controversial fence along its Mexico flank. And Israel is building a separation barrier between itself and the West Bank.

I don't know to which extent it is true that the Great Wall of China could be seen from the moon, but if these constructions keep on going, it would not be the only wall seen from above. Old fashions come back to life after some time, and the Berlin wall although no longer exists, comes back to life in many other places.

Technology could not bridge the differences between people of varied point of views. There is a reason why this is the new trend, it is insecurity. People and countries do not trust the other, whether it is the next-door neighbor, the foreign family in the avenue, the colleague from another part of the country, or the adjacent country.

The point is that it seems we have not learnt from history. Brick walls or barbed wires cannot keep harm away. Let it be illegal immigrants who want to make their lives better or terrorists who want to make yours worse.

What is needed to establish security on earth is not another brick in the wall, it is in fact, is a world less divided.