hands 1

Bridges not walls..” That was a post today by a friend of mine. There has been a great deal of discussion about walls this past year, some believing that walls solve problems. Robert Frost suggested “Good fences make good neighbors” in his poem Mending Wall (1914). I started reflecting on historically significant walls in history. The Great Wall of China is one that most people are familiar with and one famous wall that no longer exists is the Berlin Wall. Do walls help or hinder peace among people? Could we live peacefully without walls and fences? In his poem, Frost explores the paradoxes in humans as we "make(s) boundaries and we (he) break(s) boundaries".


Hadrian's Wall

It is a dilemma. If ranchers let cattle roam freely and eat crops that would be a problem for farmers. If my dogs (as wonderful as I think they are) were allowed to roam the neighborhood freely my neighbors would not be happy with me. Fences are important and so are walls. The question then may be what are we doing with our fences and walls? Are we being neighborly or are we being exclusionary? Are we excluding others because we are fearful? Do we want anyone to come into our yard at any time or do we want our privacy and expect them to be invited? It seems reasonable to have boundaries and borders. In a country where 98% percent of the population is Non-Native American we are a nation of immigrants or decedents of immigrants, yet, we continually denigrate immigrants. It’s a bit psychotic, really. Each wave of ethnic group that attempts to join our country is harassed, scorned and rejected. We do it every time. Irish, Jews, Polish, Italian....... At some time we have held a particular ethnic group in disdain.

western wall

Western Wall

We also claim to be a country based on freedoms; press, speech, and religion. Unless it is not OUR press, speech or religion. We erect walls and fences to keep those we perceive as ‘different’ from us away. The walls and fences are not always visible or tangible sometimes they take the form of laws or language or rules or building laws. These are the walls that are not conducive to being good neighbors. Drawing lines in the sand or constructing walls to keep those we distrust out can actually contribute to the problems we fear. Cordoning off those we dislike can come back to haunt us by creating anger and dissent. It is probably safe to say we all want the same basic things in life; a safe home, a steady food supply, decent jobs with a living wage to raise our families in peace. This is what refugees want. This is what Americans want. Most Americans were either once immigrants themselves or are descended from immigrants. Can we not place our collective feet in the shoes of those who are now asking for the same chances we have been given? After all, humans have been migrating for 80,000 years. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-great-human-migration-13561/?no-ist



Should we be careful who we let into our country? Of course we should. Just as we are careful who we let into our homes. Currently it can take up two years to be able to come to the US as a Syrian refugee. Meanwhile these people, women, children and babies are living in deplorable conditions. Imagine how relieved you would be to be a given a new chance after your home and life had been destroyed beyond recognition. Some of our ancestors were given the same chance and that is how we came to be living in the US.  Imagine how grateful you would be. Do we need ‘the best wall’? Or do we need compassion, understanding and careful regulations? In a dangerous, volatile world do we need to make enemies or friends? I suggest friendship trumps enemy. Far wiser people than I have made the same suggestion.


Deborah Baron

Deborah Baron

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