WALLS

Here’s the history of the world in seven words: Walls go up and walls come done.

The demilitarized zone between North and South Vietnam remained militarized for 21 years. The Berlin wall stood for just over 30. The Korean peninsula has been divided for just over twice that. People are impatient. History isn’t.

The walling off of the Warsaw Ghetto took eleven days to complete and lasted 3 years. The erection of concentration camps for Palestinians is an ongoing work in progress.. The wall between the U.S. and Mexico is still on the drafting table. To stop the flow of refugees, from Turkey all the way up the Balkans to Austria, walls are being erected one day and torn down the next, only to go up again the day after that. ‘Twas always thus, and always will be. History is patient and repetitive.

My neighbor and I just split the cost of a fence, but we had the foresight to include a gate, just in case. Ultimately it’ll be the smell of the other’s barbeque that’ll get that gate unlatched, if only tentatively at first, but then pretty much thereafter. No one likes to beg, and a care package is equally humiliating. It’s the invitation issued in the hope of a return one that does the work.

There is no wall on the planet, nor in the history of our species on it, that has withstood the smell of what’s cooking on the other side. For all our xenophobia and demonizing and genocides, that’s humanity’s saving grace.

But there are exceptions. Their haggis will not save the Scots from genocide.

 

 

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