Local View: Walls made to be breached; all, eventually, give way
I can think of a lot of famous walls.
There was the great Trojan Wall that kept the Achaeans (Greeks) out of Troy until crafty Odysseus built a Trojan Horse.
There's the Great Wall of China, extending more than 5,000 miles and not all that successful at keeping out the barbarians.
Then there was Hadrian's Wall, whose purpose was to keep the Scottish out. But, according to one expert, it was to force northern merchants through a gate in order to collect taxes for the Roman Empire.
The Middle Ages saw a rise of walled castles the Vikings easily breached for treasures. Later, after the making of gunpowder and cannons, the castles were easily laid to waste.
After World War I, the French made the Maginot Line, which was no match for tanks and planes or for an end run by a fast-moving army.
The Russians built the Berlin Wall, which failed to keep the best scientific minds in East Germany. President Ronald Reagan told Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down that wall, and one day it was torn down.
None of these walls were all that successful until they became major tourist attractions.
I learned about the foolishness of walls while in grade school. My brother and I looked forward to snow days when, by noon, our mother, tired of our morning shenanigans, would wrap us in at least five layers of clothes and send us outside into the freshly fallen snow as Pillsbury dough boys. We would make snow forts and great walls to protect ourselves from enemies and to hide caches of snowballs. We were quickly joined by other neighborhood boys with matching outfits. We divided into teams, one the hometown heroes and the other the fearsome invaders. After the exchange of numerous snowballs, one of the invaders would yell, "Charge!" and from the other side of the street boys would come rushing, smashing into our walls and making gaping holes.
With all of our protective armor, at least five inches of wool clothing, we would knock each other to the ground and would try to wash each others' faces with snow. We would tire quickly and, being too bundled up to get up, would just lay there, scooping up some fresh snow to eat, catching snowflakes with our tongues, and making a few snow angels until hearing our moms' calls to come for hot chocolate and cookies.
Just as all walls gradually give way to the forces of nature, our snow walls slowly and stubbornly melted as spring replaced winter.
President Donald Trump and Congress should learn that to every young child a wall always presents a challenge, an obstacle to climb on, get over, crawl under, sneak around, or break through. As we've learned every wall throughout history, there's always a way to breach the unbreachable.
Poet Robert Frost in "Mending Wall" wrote:
"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 ..."
An estimated $25 billion seems rather an excessive amount to pay in hopes of building a future tourist attraction. Maybe if we would find the reasons why we do not need a wall along the Canadian border we could use that knowledge to help the Mexican people make their homeland into a place where they would rather stay. Surely that wouldn't cost $25 billion, and both countries would gain a better neighbor.
F. Joseph Giesen of Duluth worked 41 years in education and is a longtime advocate for equal rights.