Saturday, April 20, 2013

Better Walls?

It happens every time.  First the violence and the national non-stop news coverage, then the calls for increased security.  We need better walls!

Sometimes we act like we've just got a few holes in our walls, and if we could just plug those holes everything would be fine.  Then we'd be safe.

Safety is great, and as someone wise once said, good fences can make good neighbors.  We need good and prudent laws.  But we should remember that no one is ever permanently safe.  The quest for perfect safety is a quest that is guaranteed to fail.

We moderns congratulate ourselves for seeing how silly people once were for seeking the Holy Grail or the Fountain of Youth.  Our wisdom sees through old myths!  But we fail to recognize the same impulse in ourselves, the impulse to make our security permanent.

Just listen, and you will hear, in the weeks after the tragedy, the calls for heightened border security, for more watchmen at our gatherings, for more scrutiny of Those Who Are Not Like Us, for more restrictions on immigration.

Some of that will be good.  But more than the structures of security we need the cultivation of wisdom. The Spartans knew that the more you depend on walls to keep others out, the more those walls will become your prison.

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