We are wall-eyed, our vision mis-aligned. We construct walls and eye them, while simultaneously looking away. My eyes hurt just thinking about it. We’ve lost our depth perception.
It’s a pathetic, futile thing (and a profound forgetting of history) to engage in wall building. But it’s something to do, and there are hatreds to be stoked, fears to be placated, monies to be gathered.
Shakespeare used the term “wall-eyed” to express reproach, metaphorically extending the literal misalignment of the eye’s vision in order to criticize interpretive vision. A “wall-eyed” wretch has more than distorted literal vision. The implication is that he (or she) is out of alignment with social reality, totally lacking in empathy, knowing no pity – unnatural, alienated, and irretrievably perverted.
I just think of the meaningless, baleful sort of gaze of the fish – the walleye. Nobody home. In denial of reality, in paranoia and fear, in ethnocentrism and narcissism and xenophobia, and in misaligned vision – we construct more walls. Mine! Mine! Here us, there all of you things. Disney nightmares notwithstanding, it is a small world after all – we’re stuck with each other. It’s just not going to work.
Stricter border controls and higher penalties will not stop illegal immigration either. They don’t address the root causes of the problem: a stagnant Mexican economy and strong demand for cheap labor in the U.S. market.
Building a wall may mean safety for some but tragedy for many. I got my indoctrination into the horror of mortar and concrete on August 13, 1961, watching East German communist police close off East Berlin, first with barbed wire, then with concrete. On the West Berlin side, people came up to the wall in tears as families were divided and East Berliners were cut off from their jobs in the West.
…This memory comes back to me because we seem to be afflicted with another spell of “wallitis” – hoping that closing off problems will solve them.
American soldiers have been engaged in a project of closing off the Sunni district of Adhamiya in Baghdad. Israel has been working for years on a 436-mile fence that, in part, closes off the Arab section of East Jerusalem. Pakistan is building a fence to close off Taliban routes into Afghanistan. And, lest the United States miss out on the closing-off festival, it has started work on what will eventually be a 700-mile fence along the Mexican border.
Proponents of that wall speak of keeping out terrorists as well as job-seeking illegal immigrants. That is hard to establish. But what can be established is that the projected fence has helped to stimulate a booming business in tunnel building and another booming business in forging identity documents.*
As Robert Frost wrote, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” – From Daniel Schorr, “Closing off problems with walls doesn’t solve them,” Christian Science Monitor, Friday May 25, 2007
*Not to mention a booming business…. in building walls.
Almost all of us are immigrants. We are the children of immigrants and exiles.
Inscribed on a table within the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
- “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus
Work on smarter solutions now. It’s a simple demographic. A shortage of skilled workers approacheth.
Wall-building is so contagious, but it doesn’t really work in microcosm either. The walled complex, the walled community.
We’re disrupting the rhythms of human life and interaction to our disgrace – and peril.
Less interaction, less understanding = more hostility, fake security.
You build the walls, and then you need the guards, and the passwords. And you live behind the wall, or you’re kept out by the wall. You hire bodyguards if you’re rich enough. You hide your children.
Who is the greater hostage of the bunker/fortress/rabbit hole/prison mentality? The gated community (even when you’ve seized a natural resource for colonization), is still a prison. You’re locked inside just as surely.
(Note to self: Objects – intended uses not limit/closer than they appear, panoptican, circulation/exchange, lines of flight, sca-venge.)