Forts and castles can be traced back to the time humans first started defining their territories and power over one another. It was a symbol of strength and superiority over other ruling powers. It took years to build and took sweat and blood from hundreds and thousands who toiled on making them.
Built over 5000 years ago, the old city of Aleppo, Syria has the oldest and the largest fortified castles in the world. Many civilizations and empires occupied the city. The castle dominated the culture that came with its inhabitants. Some cultures were plunderers whereas others were settlers. Some embalmed and enriched a decaying culture, whereas others impoverished a thriving one. Believed to be the strongest, the strength of the walls surrounding the castle was no match for some forces, the fort could not stop the invading cultures, and was forced to embrace them as they came.
The castle lies in ruin today, mostly due to decades of conflicts within the region. The conflicts are not new to the castle, but the invading forces are and have been. As though the time stood still for the castle ever since it was built millenniums ago, the new receding cultures continue to erode the vigour of the castle and metaphorically of its inhabitants.
Prison, on the other hand, also dating back to the beginning of civilization, as we know was built structurally strong similar to forts and castles, with one significant contrast. Unlike castles that were made to keep the uninvited out, the prisons were built to keep the inhabitants from escaping.
The primary purpose of the forts was to protect the inside from outside. The prisons purpose is to protect the outside from the inside.
The Berlin experience provides an in-depth insight on our behaviour, which is led by our attitude, which is shaped through our association with others and our inner self (we will cover this topic in some detail later). Most of my growing years, I believed I could hold my stead firm against outside influence, which was not arrogance, but at best my immaturity. I did not know that the external control could sweep under my feet without my knowledge. It took years and some painful experiences for me to come to terms that I was, in fact, vulnerable to what was outside. That’s when I learnt that having a safety net to break our fall is essential to our living.
Would you feel safe living in a house without walls and roofs? Building walls are your safety net.
Now I think you must have guessed by now how this relates to us.
We need a castle and a prison inside us. We need to build a strong castle within us to keep the negatives from the outside at bay, and need a prison to avoid the negative in us from slipping out. As much as we need to protect and defend ourselves from the outside, we need to protect the outside from us as well. It goes both ways. If each of us welcomes the good with open arms and lock out the bad from within, we will leave this world a bit better than how we found it.
To your success!