I’m tired of walls, fences, borders, anything that divides us. “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” There are the historic walls: the Berlin Wall, the double electrified fence around Auschwitz, Hadrian’s Wall, and the Great Wall of China. And there are the current walls: the Korean Demilitarized Zone, the fence around Isreal, and The Fence (between the USA and Mexico. There is Africa which was divided into countries by the colonial powers using boundaries that frequently made no sense whatsoever; they are just lines on a map that require border crossings. Historic dividers may be intriguing tourist attractions, but they were rarely useful for their proposed function. They have become obsolete emblems of civilization’s failures.
Why should persons born on one side of a fence or wall have a totally different set of living circumstances and opportunities than those living on the other side? And borders are frequently excuses for bad behavior. Because of a line on a map, Americans want to believe that they are blessed of God, and others less so. According to Frances Lee Menlove writing in Sunstone (Jun 2013):
We [should] refuse to morph deep gratitude for the Constitution into a claim that America is more beloved of God than other nations. Toxic ideologies fuel violence. The claim of American exceptionalism, of America’s divine mission, adds din–maybe even idolatrous din–to the clamor. This is a rework of an ancient myth that has sent soldiers to their deaths for thousands of years: “God is on our side, not theirs.”
I came of age in the 1960s. John Lennon’s Image still has meaning to me:
Imagine there’s no countries/It isn’t hard to do/Nothing to kill or die for/And no religion too/Imagine all the people living life in peace
America is preparing to invest additional billions in The Fence. The 10-year cost includes $25 billion for additional border guards, $3 billion for fencing, and $3.2 billion for other measures. The project is doomed to failure, and in reality is just a PR stunt to placate political conservatives.
The sad thing is that walls have crept into our beliefs about the hereafter. For most Christians, there is a heaven and there is a hell:
Imagine there’s no heaven/It’s easy if you try/No hell below us/Above us only sky/Imagine all the people living for today
In Mormonism the walls are even more onerous. There are 3 heavens and walls to keep individuals from moving from one to the other. The highest heaven–the Celestial Kingdom–is again divided into three. I assume in the Celestial Kingdom there are also walls for separation.
I suppose that some walls will always be needed. For example, to keep cows from moving too freely. But can’t we at least try to minimize them and not fall for the old cliché: “Good fences make good neighbors.”