“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.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall”
(Robert Frost, The Mending Wall)
When Jimmy was younger, he loved to throw his ball outside the house. Being a curious one, it seemed then that no fences or walls could limit his desire for hurling his toy as far as the eye could see. One day, he was tossing around a football with a friend when the ball landed beyond his sight. Moving quickly to retrieve it, he observed his precious ball sitting next to an American flag displayed prominently beyond a wall separating the adjoining property owners yard.
Sensing no immediate danger, Jimmy proceeded to climb over this five feet high barrier. Suddenly he was stopped in his tracks by the loud shouts of his neighbor, ordering him to get off this private land immediately. He had never seen this angrily sounding man before and wondered why a little boy just having fun was being perceived as a threat now. Did this neighbor have something to hide, he thought? Did he hate kids? Why could he not share his yard with Jimmy today?
Confused by the aggressive actions of this nearby resident, Jimmy would later learn from his father that this man had built this wall not to protect his property, but to demonstrate his loathsome attitude toward foreigners living in his neighborhood. Facing this grim reality of segregation in this wall in childhood would later serve as a “symbolic lesson” for his future world travels as any such attempts to insulate the world from others would never do. Jimmy’s quest would be to find a way to open coexistence in the company of others, no matter how different the cultural challenges would be at the time.
In Australia, he would celebrate his self accomplishment of finishing a hard earned climb to the top of Ayers Rock, yet humbly join with his multi-national competitors in a spirit of unity to celebrate the spiritual significance of this natural phenomenon. In Kenya, he would disregard the racial stereotypes of African tribal life to jump jubilantly with members of the Masai Tribe within the grounds of their homeland. In Amsterdam, he would forego his dislike of mob scene mentality to join in raucous celebrations of World Cup greatness as the Dutch soccer team returned from their latest match win. In Thailand, he would learn to use the Buddhist hand greeting gesture in social encounters as a way to become more respectful toward the unfamiliar, Asian surroundings.
The current obsession by Donald Trump and his supporters to build a Mexico bordered wall along the Southern border of our country thus gives me good reason to doubt the success of these efforts. Would it not make more sense for him to tear down the wall of his secretive life as a ruthlessly exploitive businessman and release his tax returns?In his ego centered desire to win the Presidency, would he be willing to sacrifice some of his own wealth to help Mexico or taxpayers pay for this costly wall? Would his political flip flops about immigration policy give Americans true confidence that his wall would enhance our country’s National Security? Before Donald decides to build fortresses to surround his castle as King of the land, he must face his own walls of imperfection.