Sunday, April 22, 2007

Building walls internally and externally

"You have got to be kidding me!" was my first thought as I read the title of the New York Times article: U.S. Erects Baghdad Wall to Keep Sects Apart.

Is that our new solution to everything?? If we can't get along or if we don't want to deal with them, build a wall. Talking to and listening to people is too difficult, I suppose. It takes too much time, effort, understanding, and (God forbid!) possibly some compromise about what we have always thought is the "right" way to do things!!

Walls allow us to block people from our view...We don't have to see them. We don't have to deal with them.

Do walls work??

Creating walls and distance seems, to me, to have started in the 60s. People moved out of the city fleeing people who looked different than them without any desire to even try to get to know the people they were running from. People moved out and built large houses with alley garages and privacy fences. But the walls, gates, and backdoor entrances did not keep them from having problems...drugs, domestic violence, and homocide still exists in their homes, too.

Despite the failure of creating barriers from our fears, we still continue to create walls...only now they are bigger, more obvious, and very deliberate...We can't figure out how to deal with immigration, so we create a wall....We don't know how to handle the Shiite and Sunnis, so we create a wall. The way we're going, I wouldn't doubt if the next wall built separates inner city communities from suburbia. (I'm only being slightly sarcastic here. The rate we're going, it honestly wouldn't surprise me. It scares me to think we would do that, but wouldn't surprise me.)

What's worse than a physical wall, however, is that those physical walls help create and allow us to justify our emotional walls. We have created these walls in our own country, and now we are projecting our fears and our unwillingness to listen and compromise onto the global society. We avoid people we don't know and/or don't understand. We say that "they won't listen to reason," but the reality is we haven't taken the time to listen to them. We say that "they're taking over our country," but we haven't sat down with them to listen to their delimmas and asked them to help us create a solution. We say that "our inner cities are violent and uneducated," yet we want to be selfish and keep all of the resources for our own children and our own communities.

We ignore and refuse to believe the intelligence and capacity of people who are different than us.

Walls ostracize people. They create barriers between people. They create anger and resentment because people do not know each other.

For those of us who recognize this, we have to actively work against this...in our own hearts, in our communication with our politicians, by our actions, and by our choices. Walls do not eliminate our problems; they exacerbate them.
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