Robert Frost says it best:
“Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down…”
Frost expresses my sentiments better than I can and in such a lovely
and loving way. I just want to tear the damn things down and let
people meet and greet one another as friends. Walls are not going to
keep people out nor keep people in and we have only to look at The
Great Wall of China or the Berlin Wall or even the walls of a prison.
When I saw the wall in Nogales, Mexico last week that separates
Nogales, Arizona from Nogales, Mexico, my overwhelming feelings
were sadness and futility. Sadness because of the current state of
affairs emanating from The White House in Washington, DC and
futility from my own inability to crash through that wall. Then I
heard Ronald Reagan in my head, saying on June 12, 1987 at the
Brandenburg gate, “Mr. Khrushchev, tear down this wall,” and I’m
not even a Republican. The wall did not come down until 1989.
For us, it’s easy to cross a border with a U.S. passport although that
could change given the climate for customs, immigration, border
patrols and inspections. All that we surrendered in Nogales was a
dozen eggs that we inadvertently left uncooked in the refrigerator
in our RV. Even our dog wasn’t subjected to an inspection other
than an inquiry about whether or not his shots were up to date. We
had visas that were good for six months and there’s an application to
become a temporary resident should we have wished to pursue that.
So why do we make it so difficult for others to come visit us except
out of an irrational fear that someone will do us harm?
My sense is that for every wall there is a ladder, bridge, tunnel or
ramp designed to illustrate the futility of putting a wall there to
separate people and countries. There are other walls that hold up
houses, a load bearing wall; a wall that keeps land from sliding
down where it’s not wanted, a retaining wall and there are different
kinds of walls – brick, metal, stone, concrete and wood. Some serve
positive and constructive purposes and I saw a stone wall being built
by hand along a high bank next to a house that was a beautiful piece
of work by an artisan. But these are not the walls that are causing
problems. They actually solve problems. Walls that separate people
will not solve a problem, they will only make the problem worse.