There are walls, and there are walls


In our homes, the walls divide up the living space and hold up the ceilings and roof. But not all walls are built with such good intent…

Robert Frost said in his poem, The Mending Wall:

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…

Generally when there is a wall built between two countries or cultures it is to separate them. I remember my father saying that in time Mexico would become part of the United States, and so would Canada and then in fact, I thought all of the Americas would become one large America. Well, that might mean we’d have to share the wealth, the power and since we already share the jobs, at least in a southerly direction, is that so outlandish, or is it inevitable.

Ireland is filled with stone walls delineating one farm from the next. All of these walls are made with great stones placed in rows on top of each other with many spaces and no mortar between them so the strong winds can blow right through the holes and the walls stay upright.

Hadrian’s Wall, built as a defensive fortification in the Roman province of Britannia, was begun in 122 AD during the reign of the emperor Hadrian. When in use it was effectively the northern limit of the Roman Empire. According to Wikipedia, restored sandstone fragments found in Jarrow which date from 118 or 119, indicate that it was Hadrian’s wish to keep “intact the empire”, which had been imposed on him via “divine instruction”. The same article says that parts of the wall remain standing but parts were robbed of stones to be used for other construction.

There is copious information on the Internet about many of the historic walls that are well known including the The Great Wall of China, a series of fortifications made of stone, brick, tamped earth, wood, and other materials, generally built along an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of China to protect the Chinese states and empires against the raids and invasions of the various nomadic groups of the Eurasian Steppe. Little of the original wall built by the first emperor of China remains. Since then, the Great Wall has on and off been rebuilt, maintained, and enhanced; the majority of the existing wall is from the Ming Dynasty.

Other purposes of the Great Wall have included border controls, allowing the imposition of duties on goods transported along the Silk Road, regulation or encouragement of trade and the control of immigration and emigration. Furthermore, the defensive characteristics of the Great Wall were enhanced by the construction of watch towers, troop barracks, garrison stations, signaling capabilities through the means of smoke or fire, and the fact that the path of the Great Wall also served as a transportation corridor.

A more contemporary wall was the Berlin Wall dividing East and West Germany, built in 1961 and closed in 1989 and mostly demolished by 1992. The Eastern Bloc claimed that the Wall was erected to protect its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the “will of the people” in building a socialist state in East Germany. In practice, the Wall served to prevent the massive emigration and defection that had marked East Germany and the communist Eastern Bloc during the post-World War II period. All of these facts and dates are in related articles on Wikipedia.

The topic of walls comes to mind because one of the contenders for the Republican nomination, Donald Trump, has talked about building a wall on the American side of the border between the United States and Mexico in an effort to curb the flow of illegal immigrants into this country. He has further suggested that Mexico would pay for that wall. A claim flatly denied by the former President of Mexico, Vincente Fox, according to the Huffington Post.

Walls are built and walls fall down.


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