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Walking through the Wall by Kevin J. Shay

Walking through the Wall

by Kevin J. Shay

363 pages
Account of the longest group peace walk in modern history.

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Category: Politics
About the Book

In 1984, the nuclear arms race proceeded at a furious pace. Some United States leaders talked of a "winnable" nuclear war against the former Soviet Union. Then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan and then-USSR Premier Konstantin Chernenko had not as much as met in the previous four years.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists set its traditional "Doomsday Clock," which has marked the danger of nuclear war since 1947, to three minutes before midnight in 1984. That was the closest it had been to midnight in three decades.

The crucial times demanded extraordinary action from citizens, and some answered the call. One method of trying to break through this wall of East-West division was a walk of some 7,000 miles from California to Moscow called "A Walk of the People - A Pilgrimage for Life." The author participated in this action when it reached Texas and remained with the project longer than all but two others.

Participants met hundreds of people from all walks of life in many countries, including government officials and religious leaders. They collected letters, poems, drawings, and other messages of peace to distribute to people beyond the wall. They also raised awareness through the media, being covered by more than 1,500 newspapers and 500 radio and television stations in the U.S. and Europe.

The author continued to participate in such breaking-down-the-walls projects after that one ended in late 1985. As U.S.-Russia relations improved, the "Doomsday Clock" rose to 17 minutes in 1991 after the Berlin Wall tumbled down. Some observers said it was mostly internal pressure from Eastern European citizens demanding political reforms that caused the wall to fall. These people were inspired by Americans' actions to get beyond our governments' barriers and meet them to tell them we didn't want war.

Walking through the Wall
is the author's personal account of those somewhat dark, somewhat exhilarating times. It is a story of not just trying to walk through barriers like the Berlin Wall, but of attempting to break through internal walls, walls between walkers, walls between one's self. The project was similar to the television show, "Survivor," in that it put people together in an intense setting that required them to use all of their resourcefulness, and work with each other towards a common goal. But the goal was something higher than money, fame, and entertainment; it was trying to avert a nuclear war.

Today, the "Doomsday Clock" is back down to seven minutes, as the Bush administration refuses to sincerely work for peace and seeks world domination, or at least domination of the Mideast oil trade. So, it's time for more peace pilgrims to step forward. And they have, including a group of women who walked across the U.S. for peace in 2002. The author has also stepped up his peace work. In telling this story, he hopes to inspire more people to work for peace and justice, to keep attempting to walk through the wall.

 

 

About the Author
Kevin J. Shay, 43, has been a journalist for newspapers like The Dallas Morning News and magazines like Minority Business News USA since 1978. He is author of several books and has won writing awards. He is married to Michelle, and they have a son, Preston, and a daughter, McKenna.

 

 

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