Mending Fences


 

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall…                                                                              One on a side. It comes to little more:                                                                                      There, where it is, we do not need the wall                                                                                        I tell him…                                                                                                                                             He only 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?…

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,                                                                                That wants it down.                                                                                                                                …and I’d rather He saw it for himself…”

Excerpts from Robert Frost’s Mending Fence

In America right now, we have labored on our own invisible, impenetrable metaphorical wall. Berlin-like it separates us, right from left, liberal from conservative, Democrat from Republican, urban from rural, coast from heartland, rich from poor, ordinary from elite. Yet, unlike the Germans when divided by concrete, many of us express little desire to surmount it or bring it down, justifying our own side of the divide.

Embracing the concept like Frost’s neighbor, we seek to wall out our fears by building ever higher fences between “us” and “them” and when the barrier shows signs of erosion, we build it back again in the minds of our families and friends.

When others attempt to tear down walls between religions and races, between cultures and communities, between political parties and ideologies, this is portrayed as creating danger to the “American way of life” or as political correctness run amok.

But the way of life many seek to protect exists only in the idealized past, the booming era when hard labor could lead to home-ownership, and work in mines, in auto plants, in steel mills, in factories brought middle-class entrance and abundance.

It was an age of dignity for every “average Joe and Jane’ that’s largely gone today. Displaced, many on the right have come to believe it is the stranger, the “illegal,” or immigrant here, or those in countries overseas that are shoving them aside, taking their place…or that the “educated left elite” in America, missing the contributions they made, who have declared them unnecessary or unemployable.

Sadly, just as evolution didn’t stop with the dinosaurs, technology did not stop with the assembly line. It is relentless. STEM advances will make ever more jobs obsolete. To survive, we will all have to keep step with that evolution.

 

And the jobs that are going unfilled in America today, that would bring a good income, often cannot be filled by either the high school grad, or the debt-burdened Baccalaurean with a liberal arts degree. Rather workers with advanced training in technologies or Associate Degrees from Technical or Community Colleges are being sought. Both sides must face this future.

On the left side of the wall, fences are often favored as well.

Concern for not excluding others evolves into a litmus test of the uniqueness of the pain. Political correctness can even exclude Jewish lesbians from a gay pride march because Israel walls out Palestinians. Fences built on that side limit the “freedom” of free speech barring thoughts by conservatives as contrary to liberal beliefs, yet insist on their right to fully express their view. We all lose when this happens.

Still, neither side wants to come together to find answers.  Stones keep being thrown: slurs, epithets, stigmatizing labels. Can we not disagree about a policy or a position, an idea or an ideology, without debasing the person expressing it? Not everyone is a terrorist, a liberal elite, or a neanderthal conservative.

Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you has become: Do to others what you think they did or what they might do…get even, hit back. Or worse: Knock others down (with anger and words), launch pre-emptive strikes before they can…because of course, we know who THEY are, we know what THEY think, what THEY will say, what THEY will do.

But I keep hearing Frost…”something there is that does not love a wall.” Will that axiom hold true?

This week brought a few calls for bipartisanship in our Congress.  Can our leaders re-assert the idea that the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts…that our Founders got it right in believing there is strength in accepting the contributions of every viewpoint, that compromise is more lasting than confrontation and division, that what made America great was standing united and finding common ground to meet upon.

It is time to make a commitment to that goal before more harm is done to our world. This post is my endorsement and my first step in that direction. Will you help me build bridges instead of fences? Together we can bring down the walls between us.

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About joanneeddy

Writer living in North Carolina. Originally from upstate New York. I love my family, my community, and my friends, and embrace 'living deliberately' in the world, trying to make a difference. I have written an as yet unpublished book, The Call, an epic fantasy with historical fiction and folklore elements. My blog is for other writers, for those who love a good read, and for all who, like me, are looking to find and live their call.
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15 Responses to Mending Fences

  1. Clive says:

    A very well written and argued piece, Jo. Sadly, I can see it’s relevance here too – our vote to leave the EU was, in effect, our apparent wish to erect one of those walls between us and the rest of Europe. Insularity and the refusal to recognise the value of any viewpoint other than our own is damaging, and will lead to countries which, when forced to become self-reliant, will realise their limitations when it is too late to overcome them.

    Numpty Trumpty has said that his wall needs to be transparent so that he can see what the bad hombres are doing, and can spot the large bags of drugs they will be hurling across the Rio Grande. What a grade A moron! In the meantime, he carries on destroying the sub-structure of your country, all for the benfit of his rich mates.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joanneeddy says:

      Thank you, Clive. I find the times we live in so appalling that I have struggled to write my blog. I obviously believe in balance and that just governance will best be found when reasonable people sit down together and build consensus. Now, we are reduced to cardboard cutouts of supposed leaders spewing talking points and talking past each other. It is so discouraging as the extremes on either side have such a lock on their parties it prevents accomplishing anything. And all of this is unfolding while the Russian story drips acid-like in a daily erosion of our country. Sometimes, I just want to withdraw from engaging any of it.

      I love your naming of “he who (ideally) should not be named!” I do think a great fall is coming due to his course, testosterone-fueled combativeness and stupidity (some don’t know France is our oldest ally? Really? Did his elite school fail to teach history?) but I fear it will come at a cost as he and the GOP take our government apart piece by piece in the meantime. I so hope the failure of the healthcare bill will force bi-partisanship and that, if achieved, can lead them back to governing.

      You are right that Brexit and Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris accords and tepid support of NATO and our allies in a preference for self-interest is short-sighted and dangerous. We are always stronger together (even if the defeat of Clinton may have tarnished the phrase.) So somehow I will keep banging on in the hope of stirring a few others to action. Thank you, my friend for sticking with me! Jo

      Liked by 1 person

      • Clive says:

        I share that feeling, Jo. I really haven’t felt much like writing for weeks now, for fear that all I’ll produce is a rant! His ongoing and seemingly ever-increasing stupidity and ignorance shows no sign of abating, and it can only be a matter of time before even his most fervent supporters turn against him. But, given that 72% of them apparently believe there was no Russian collusion that is a huge, sorry yuuuge, amount of collective stupidity to overcome.

        The real problem is that his rudeness and arrogance are such that others will be unwilling to work with him. He refuses to accept that there is any way other than his, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. He just disdainfully dismisses this as fake or lies – when really he is the one spreading all of that. I hope that you and like-minded, sentient people can help to bring your country to its senses before the damage becomes irrevocable. As you say, we need the same here. Maybe I should go on a rant after all 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • joanneeddy says:

        I often want to. I sometimes do – and maybe I need to. But when I stay true to who I am, then I can write again. I believe if we meet Trump’s follower’s pettiness and cruelty with anger, they just suck it up as another reason he’s right. We have to call them to their better selves. It may not work but I’m going to keep trying.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Clive says:

        Good for you! His followers seem prepared to accept anything from him. Blind faith has been shown by history to be dangerous. You’re right, they need to be encouraged to think, if they’re capable of independent thought.

        Liked by 1 person

      • joanneeddy says:

        As you might guess, the majority of my friends are not followers. Two did vote for him as Conservatives wanting a conservative Supreme Court judge, small government etc. I keep trying to reach them and they both find him personally appalling but embrace most of his policies (not immigration per see but increased security re terrorists). I keep trying to get them to look at his totalitarianism, lack of thinking and moral virtue (now there’s a dangerous combination.) and I hammer on. I always thought it was the silence of the virtuous in Germany that allowed Hitler’s rise. Those who know me know I am rarely silent, lol!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Clive says:

        I had kinda guessed that! It’s good to see that there is strong opposition to him, as from a UK perspective it is incredible that someone like him was elected. Then again, non-Brits probably say the same about our vote to destroy our country by leaving the EU. Not that I was around at the time but I’ve studied more history than Numpty ever has, and there are many worrying parallels between the way he approaches government and the rise of the Nazis. Maybe his attacks against anyone who dares to disagree with him haven’t quite reached the level of the Night of the Long Knives, but he doesn’t get democracy, does he?

        Liked by 1 person

      • joanneeddy says:

        No, he doesn’t though he wraps himself in flags in front of his followers. As more and more dribble out the Russia stuff looks like the work of a gang of idiots but, also, more and more true. I try not to get into the same conspiracy mind-set the alt-right here used on Obama and Clinton, but one article I read suggested that Trump is withholding his income taxes because of Russian money that would show up. It begins to appear that Russia may have been cultivating him for years…not just this election cycle. Of course, he is the perfect dupe, unaware of history, uninterested in any view but his own, believing in swapping favors with “friends.” As bad as Bush was, the needless wars that helped break apart the middle east, he wasn’t dishonorable (Cheney was evil, but that is another matter!). Trump is a horrible human being and scary as it gets. I do hate to see the Brexit…for years England led the way in Europe in creating alliances. I fear Russia will try to pick Europe off piece by piece. Putin is always planning and looking for vulnerabilities.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Clive says:

        That’s how it has been reported here too. A full page article in today’s Sunday Times reached the same conclusion, amidst suggestions that he is trying to remove Mueller to stop him finding the evidence. There was a suggestion that both he and Kushner took large loans with Deutschland Bank, which has Russian connections. It’s hardly conclusive but is enough to stir the murk around in his own personal swamp. And this business about pardons is an admission of guilt – what do you pardon if it isn’t wrongdoing?

        The Brexit vote showed the same narrow-minded ignorance and insularity that got Trump elected. We live in uncertain times, and the future is anything but bright.

        Liked by 1 person

      • joanneeddy says:

        Hard to “like” your conclusion, but I agree, sadly.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Marilee says:

    Thank you Jo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Robyn Haynes says:

    A thoughtful perspective Jo. Such divisive times.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joanneeddy says:

      Thanks, Robyn. I find friends so angry on both sides and recent events, like Charlottesville, have provoked extreme reactions. I have gotten criticism from both sides. I, too, can get angry, but in trying to find peace for myself, I try to keep reaching out to others seek mid-ground in what I write….hard to do.

      Liked by 1 person

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