There used to be a wall surrounding Edinburgh to protect the city from English invasion. The wall had one opening where people were free to leave, but charged to come back in. For this reason, most of those in poverty never left the city. Unable to grow past the wall, buildings sprouted up vertically and even underground. The further down you lived the more impoverished you were. There was no plumbing so people would throw their waste out of the window onto the narrow roads, creating a foul odor and disgusting terrain. Those that lived underground did so with no light, no heat, no plumbing. It was the perfect place for criminals to spend their time and take advantage of others.
The wall was built to protect the city, but it created issues for everyone who lived inside. While walls protect, they also trap.
Isn’t this true in our own lives?
The more walls we build to keep ourselves safe from the outside world, the more problems we create within. In order to win the game of “who can be hurt less” in relationships, we tend to suppress our true feelings. We don’t share how we’re actually doing because if someone saw who we really were we tell ourselves they’d think less of us. We make excuses to stay home so we don’t feel compared to the people standing next to us. We lay brick after brick to keep ourselves protected, unwilling to let anyone in.
We live unaware of how high the wall has gotten until one day we find ourselves slopping through the waste, looking up at the sliver of sky above, wondering how it is that the world around has grown so dark and crowded.
There’s a bar called The World’s End in Edinburgh where the entrance to the city used to stand. At a time when leaving Edinburgh was not an option, people’s entire world was lived on the inside. The wall was eventually burnt down, rebuilt and demolished once more. It was a painful process for the city and the people when the wall was destroyed, but the cobblestones are now worn with journeys of travelers living in freedom.
What walls do you need to burn down in your own life so you can freely live?