Now, it seems, we can bring peace to Baghdad by building a wall, or a series of walls. These walls, no doubt, will partition off an elite few from the violence that is ever-present in the Iraqi capital. No doubt this wall will create an oasis of peace amongst the hells of war. But we shouldn't too soon forget the sage advice of Robert Frost who penned:
- Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
- That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
- And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
- And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The walls we have built through the ages have only heightened the divisiveness between us. No wall has ever invited the discourse that would lead us to demolish it, both in the physical and spiritual world. Only the ravages of time conspire against the walls we build. But the blood and heartache that flows while they stand can never hope to be allayed by the peace they bring to those that live within their protective heights.
Remember the Berlin wall? Ronald Reagan said this: "General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."
Eventually the Berlin wall came down but an entire group of brothers and sisters became alienated and fragmented by virtue of residing on its opposite sides. The best that has ever come from the walls we build is a temporary respite from the thuggaries of our own too rigid beliefs.
And look at what our spiritual walls have wrought. Christians against Christians. Muslims against Christians. Hindus against ... you get the picture. Spiritual walls are just as devastating and just as destructive (if not more!) than the physical walls we build. Walls are rigid, inflexible and too difficult to climb. Each one we build partitions our world a little bit more and darkens it. If we partition the world too much - to where the only people we let in are those like ourselves - then it will lose its magic, its wondrous appeal. It becomes ponderous to tend a wall every day.
Before we build this wall in Baghdad we should consider something more from Frost:
- 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.