Thursday, September 28, 2017

Bad Fences

One of these days I’m going to hike Hadrian’s Wall, the one that stretches from the Irish to the North Sea.  Originally it was 15 feet high and up to 10 feet thick.  It was built by the Romans around 122 A.D. commanded by the emperor-architect Hadrian. 

This wall defined the edge of the Roman Empire and separated Roman soldiers from the pagan armies to the north in Scotland.  It was used to control the movement of people.  Today Hadrian’s Wall is an 84-mile-long National Trail winding through some of England’s most scenic countryside.

Similarly, we have the Israeli West Bank barrier or wall that is “a separation barrier in the West Bank.  Israel considers it a security barrier against terrorism, while Palestinians call it a racial segregation or apartheid wall.   It will be 440 miles upon completion.  It controls movement of people.”

We also have the Mexico–United States barrier.  According to Wikipedia, the barrier is “a series of walls and fences along the Mexico–United States border aimed at preventing illegal crossings from Mexico into the United States…As of January 2009, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported that it had more than 580 miles of barriers in place.  The total length of the continental border is 1,989 miles.”  Our President intends to build a “big and beautiful” wall along the border.

Good fences make good neighbors.  True?  Robert Frost wrote a poem about “good fences and good neighbors” (The Mending Wall).  He actually questioned the wisdom behind the saying.  Frost wrote: “…He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’ Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder if I could put a notion in his head: ‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it where there are cows? But here there are no cows. 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 offense.  Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, that wants it down.”

Hadrian’s wall is a vestige of what it was; now it’s for hiking.   The Israeli Wall expands, and our border with Mexico continues to be fortified and strengthened.   Ill-will and resentment grows.   Fear separates and alienates friends.  

Most of us lived during the Berlin Wall separating East and West Berlin.   When the Wall was torn down, there was jubilation.  We should be so lucky with these other hate-creating walls.   Bad fences make bad neighbors, unless there are cows.

Deacon David Pierce

1 comment:

Please THINK before you write!