The picture above is the Berlin Wall, circa 1985. The large text “Wer mauert…” means, roughly translated, “Anyone who builds a wall, needs to.” I traveled to East Berlin in ’85, my only trip to the Soviet bloc pre-collapse, although I visited every corner of the former Soviet bloc in the 90s after the empire collapsed. It’s a strange reminder when I look at this picture and remember how formidable that wall seemed – and it’s gone now. So many leaders could have torn this ridiculous symbol of oppression down, but they clung to it until it dragged them down. The cost to tear it down would have been so small – the most dissatisfied would have left, but too many people would have had family, friends and lives attaching them to their homes to leave. But knowing they could might have kept them happier.
Studies have shown that regret over missed opportunities is worse than regret over mistakes made, though. I’m sure the Soviets regret trying to physically keep the world out, when they could have allowed more freedom of movement but continued to exist – that’s their mistake made – but I’m sure they really regret not tearing it down 10 years earlier than they did, and staging a big “we’re free – no really, we are!” photo op.
My question for what I hope is not the final hot Sunday of the year: what is your biggest financial regret? Mine’s in the first comment.