I was told this story once about how the Cambodians train their elephants… From a baby, the elephant is chained with thick metal to the ground. As the elephant grows older the chain around its leg is replaced by a thinner chain then a thinner one and so forth. Until one day, the chain is removed altogether and the full-grown elephant is kept in place by a small stake and a thin piece of rope. So used to not being able to break free of its constraints, the elephant does nothing to try to free itself.
I have read of studies done on fish who were kept in a bowl with a glass partition dividing it. After a time, even after the glass partition is removed, the fish will not cross over to the other side of the bowl.
What happens when you grow up in a city that was divided by a wall?
Then what happens when you take that wall away?
In Berlin, I spoke to a lovely American lady who married an East Berliner who said, “I can see the whole of Berlin. But my husband, he can’t see West Berlin. When we drive there he needs me to direct him. To him, it’s like the wall is still there.”
I have heard a similar story from a doctor who provides training seminars. When she holds seminars in West Berlin only West Berliner doctors attend her training sessions. When she holds her seminars in East Berlin, only East Berliner doctors attend those training sessions.
Unsurprisingly, the younger generation of Berliners don’t have this ‘blind spot’.
The Berlin wall fell in 1989, 24 years ago. That’s a generation ago. Yet an invisible wall still remains.
As a fantasy writer I think a lot about immortality (vampires, werewolves, demons, angels, gods) and mortality (basically everything else… except for the Immortal Jellyfish. Seriously, there is a kind of jellyfish which scientists have discovered to be ‘biologically immortal’ <—Science: it’s good for you.) I often wonder why us humans weren’t given this same gift.
But then, if we were given the gift of immortality, would it really be a gift? Or would we just be repeating one life over and over again? Repeating our old patterns and old prejudices over and over again?
Maybe death is the gift… to allow the young and ‘untrained’ and un-indoctrinated the chance to create change.
Additional note: I like to think I have explored these questions in my Dark Angel series. Stay tuned for Angelstone (Dark Angel #2) due out in June 2013. Follow this blog for news about the never-to-be-repeated Launch Day sale.