[My neighbor] says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘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,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
–From Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall”
A quarter century after the fall of the Berlin Wall, nations are still turning to walls in an attempt to find security. Paradoxically, walls often bring greater insecurity as they tear apart communities and families.
This fall Mennonite Central Committee U.S. is participating in a walk by church leaders along two walls in which we as U.S. citizens are complicit: the separation wall in Palestine and Israel and the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. This issue focuses on Palestine and Israel and the next issue will focus on the U.S.-Mexico border.
There are many connections between these two walls, from U.S. government funding to the corporations building them. Several years ago an Israeli brigadier general was speaking at a border security conference in El Paso, Texas, when he boasted, “We have learned lots from Gaza. It’s a great laboratory.”
This chilling quote brings home the reality that walls are all too often built to keep out the “other”–usually seen as one who is different from us and sometimes even less than human.
In the face of these high walls, we as Christians must proclaim that love for neighbor is more powerful. Christ can break down even the strongest walls that divide us (Ephesians 2:14) and in that we place our hope.