Said to be 5,500 miles long, and having taken 1,700 years to build, the Great Wall of China is indeed great in length. It was built for defence, which of course ‘paradoxically’ involves offence, when deemed needed. This telling suggests that according to legends, some of which of arise from modern movie-making, the wall’s defence was also against Taotie (饕餮), a voracious mythological beast, whose name literally means gluttonous, greedy and covetous.
As one comments to another, ‘What god made those things?’ Another replied, ‘None that we know.’ The duo were European mercenaries seeking fortune, hoping to find (or steal) elusive black powder, which is gunpowder, as discovered by the Chinese. Encountering army forces defending against hordes of monstrous Taoties, they collaborate, learning to trust to be trusted, to help each other in the fight against their common enemy.
Mythological as Taotie might be, it is a placeholder for the intense greed of humans too, that is not very different, albeit less dramatic? These are times not for building taller walls against fellow humans, but building longer bridges, for uniting efforts of East and West, North and South, to facilitate one another with trust, to battle against our true enemies – the Three Poisons of greed, hatred and delusion – those ‘things’ which humans otherwise ‘make’ more of.