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BRIDGING THE 'WALLS' THAT DIVIDE CITIZENS

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THE visitor here enjoys the outward, readily visible Britain - the pageantry, the settled tradition, the civility, the peace and beauty of fields, farms, rivers, oaks, and elms.

The resident also reaps the benefit of these genuine and substantial British characteristics. At the same time, however, the resident keeps stubbing a toe against at least four other features of the landscape.

These are the physical and mental, social and cultural divisions of class, of education, and of race relations; and - with geographic and economic aspects as well - the divide between the relatively prosperous Jaguar-and-Mercedes south of England, and the poorer, bleaker, recession-hit and largely out-of-work north of England together with Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Much progress has been made toward bridging or softening these divisions. Some notable changes are evident. And, of course, there are invisible walls in most other countries as well.

What the venerable poet Sir Stephen Spender calls the ''barriers'' of social class can be found in varying degrees in Australia, India, Africa, and even in supposedly egalitarian societies such as the United States, West Germany, and the Soviet Union.

Nor is Britain the only country to have a small, highly educated elite, or large numbers of adults whose education stopped at age 16, or heavy, unevenly spread unemployment.

Yet in few other Western, industrialized countries are all four ''invisible'' social and economic walls so marked, so entrenched. And many Britons recognize that to build further on their country's many current strengths demands that some or all of these walls be lowered; that there needs to be a softening of the sharp edges of social class and of north-south differences; a leveling up, rather than down, of schools and education; a narrowing of racial divisions between majority whites and growing minorities of Pakistanis, Indians, and West Indians, whose children have been educated here and whose expectations of prosperity and social justice collide with high urban unemployment. Social class

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