Some expanded thoughts on "walls.'
We are hearing a lot about walls in recent days.
Walls can keep people out.
Walls can keep people in.
Walls can separate between people so that they don’t have to get to know each other, deal with each other, or even look at each other.
It is curious that this description of walls does not have to be about walls make of stone, or wood, or about fences, all of which create physical separations.
These days, we may be grateful to the existences of the walls we can’t touch but serve the same purpose as the “real thing.” Ideological walls, divisions tower over us due to disagreement, may create a comfortable space for people where their views are not challenged.
Those walls, even though they are not physical, blind us to real aspects of our lives that we share.
We work hard.
We want to have a roof over our heads that will not take us to the point of bankruptcy.
We want to bring home enough money to pay our bills.
We want to have a secure future.
We want safe communities for ourselves and our children and grandchildren, neighborhoods and cities where we can get along and work with the people we meet to make good things happen.
We want to see opportunities for people of all ages to learn, to expand their horizons, and to be engaged with other people in common pursuits and interests.
We want to see children and grandchildren go to college without accumulating a mountain of debt.
We believe in helping people in need in some way.
If we face an illness, we want care that will help us stay stable, get better, or give us comfort as challenges to our well-being increase.
There are walls that go up when we begin to discuss how to make all these “wants” become real. Some people believe changes should happen only in the way that they recommend.
And some people believe, for the sake of community, that “give and take,”
what is still called “compromise,” can help us to accomplish those goals.
Sometimes it seems that compromise now has a high wall around it, and it can’t get out of its confined space to guide us to work together.
Perhaps, if “compromise” could speak to us, it would ask us to put some doors in the wall around it and, at the same time, to install new doors into our minds and hearts to let other people’s ideas and feelings seep in to our experience so that even the beginning of new conversations might be possible.
That dialogue, even in the face of a wide gulf of disagreement, might be a first step to getting us somewhere better.
I, for one, am ready to listen.