Lately there has been much talk of walls.
“It will be beautiful,” we are told. “It will be great, tremendous even.”
And, certainly such a wall will firmly define and make solid the lines which make us who and what we are. The shape, that’s what’s at stake I suppose — the very essence of how we see ourselves; the form we take in the world.
Sometimes I think our nation is like some deluded high school jock who — staring distractedly into any reflective surface — is easily distracted by his reflection. Seeing only perfect muscles, perfect smile and perfect hair he ignores the fact that he’s a perfectly conceited asshole. That’s what a ‘me first’ attitude will get you.
In his poem “Mending Wall” Robert Frost suggests that when erecting walls there are things to consider:
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.
To some these questions mean very little.
“Make it tall,” they say, “make it strong.” And above all make sure it looks beautiful because of course looks do matter.
Welcome to the Big Top. Ironically, we are erecting the tent at a time when circuses are closing up shop and going bankrupt. We’ve got a new era of political infotainment flourishing here in Cirque du USA.
Fueled by polarizing divisions, barriers, bans and raids the energy is positively negative. And it’s negative impact will likely remain past the short term into the long. What then, I want to know? What will we do when this whole enterprise occurs to us to be an errand planned and executed by fools?
We’re building walls on the inside — walling ourselves in and others out. Barriers spring up around our kitchen tables, at stools lining diner counters and sports bars; divisions bloom across class rooms, board rooms, and conference tables.
Trapped in a labyrinth of ignorance, a vacuum of thought, we frantically clamor hoping to out-pace some evil Minotaur. We meander in circles, dogs chasing rabbits that don’t exist, pushing aside allies and creating enemies when we need friends.
Navigating labyrinths can be a positive exercise; such mazes help us practice both journeying from and returning to the center. Walking curved and twisted lines offers opportunities to contemplate, to consider positions and where we’d like to travel. At times that requires stopping, silence, and stillness in the face of rage, anxiety or fear. As they say, the eye of the hurricane contains calm, and that eye is a labyrinth’s center.
Maybe we can tear a page from the playbook of the “fearless girl” — stand defiant and still and simply stare down the raging bulls of ignorance, racism, and mindless Twitter trolling. Stop to wonder: Before I build a wall, I’d like to know who I’m walling in and who I’m walling out?
Maybe such forethought asks a bit too much optimism. Without that we may be the very one’s standing out in the cold, beyond our own walls, facing down enraged and bloodthirsty bulls rampaging with conviction straight for us.