The news runs rampant with stories of building a wall between Mexico and the United States. While the Berlin Wall and the Great Wall of China ultimately did little to prevent infiltration by the “enemy,” the proposed Trump Wall seems to many to be the answer. I find it curious, though, that Canada is not being walled out also. Guess it’s long forgotten that some of the perpetrators of 911 entered that way.
Yesterday, I was leafing through my ancient English 101 anthology and reread Robert Frost’s Mending Wall. It begins: “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” In New England, the spring ritual for many landowners was to mend the wall that nature damaged throughout the winter. Though often a laborious task it was a necessary, annual tradition because “Good fences make good neighbors.” Hmm. I find it paradoxical. Nature battles against the wall. Tradition battles against nature to keep us and even countries apart.
When I moved to Phoenix, I was amazed that most houses had walled backyards. Unlike my Ohio upbringing, where I often roamed through three or four backyards to my friend’s house. We neighborhood kids sledded down our neighbors’ hill every winter; we weren’t walled out.
Unfortunately, I’ve met people with walls. Folk devoid of humor and zest. Folk who prefer to remain within their cramped life without friends and a sense of community spirit. Their self-imposed isolationism boggles me.
True, I live in a walled community; it keeps my dogs off the street. Some of us with small children fence our pools to prevent child drowning. But my ‘hood has not walled out each other. We socialize, work collaboratively together, and even borrow a cup of sugar when the need arises.
Frost asks: “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.”
Robert Frost penned this poem 103 years ago. Hmm. Our world is no longer a simple fence on a New England acre. What are we mending? Another paradox….