Why Trump’s wall won’t work.
It goes against the collective desire to break down boundaries between people. That’s the larger historical wave of humanity: seeing the other person as more like yourself, acting in ways that are more selfless.
“Us vs. Them”
Borders are always self-interested activities–necessary when there is a threat or strong need, but always self-interested. The Great Wall of China, trying to keep out marauding bands of nomads, was there to protect self-interests. If the threat is strong, the wall is justified. The justification sometimes gets clouded, but the “us vs. them” aspect of wall is always clear.
The strong borders of the Communist Bloc are a clear example of borders put in place to keep human resources from escaping. The self-interest reaches its peaks of intensity when the two groups have more in common. In those intense conflicts, it appears to the rest of the world to involve brothers vs. brothers. When the border splits families in half, it becomes the most damaging and absurd: the walls of Northern Ireland, The Berlin Wall, North Korea, and more.
No one cheered when the Berlin Wall went up. No one celebrates how well China, North Korea, Iran, or Russia create walls around dangerous ideas from the internet. As human beings, we don’t celebrate increasing the distances and barriers between us. We celebrate when the walls come down, when ideas and people begin to interact freely.
Trump’s Wall Promotes a Negative Cycle that Creates More Problems
It feeds off the worst in humanity, increasing hatred and distrust. When barriers are strengthened, the line between the haves and the have-nots becomes more defined. The separation of resources becomes more obvious. The competition for survival on the side of the have-nots puts them in a position of desperation, as they will literally die trying to provide a better future for their families and themselves. Competition blurs with simple survival. The haves justify the protection of their wealth despite the obvious ways that it dehumanizes their neighbors. In fact, the wealthy have to dehumanize their neighbors. If their neighbors were equal in humanity, then the gap between the rich and the poor would be a common problem. All would sense something wrong about this, and the problem solving would begin.
The stronger the wall, the more intense the problems will become. The more extreme the efforts will be to reach the land of opportunity, the more intense the efforts to keep resources protected. The greater the tragedies.
“Countries must become Counties”
To steal a line from The Once and Future King, “Countries must become counties.” The liberty to travel freely across borders creates a positive cycle of change. Liberty is the word. Reagan promoted the advances of human liberty as a means to strengthen the cause of world peace as he asked Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin wall. The Ancient Greeks viewed travelling across borders as a core freedom. If we can again recognize this as freedom, problems will begin to be resolved.
Think of the positive changes, if we consider country divisions more like county divisions.
When you travel from one county to the next, you respect the local laws, you participate in the local culture; but you do not consider warring with them. You have too much in common. Your economies are intertwined, your cultures are interconnected; you are linked by humanity, and the problems that all of humanity faces.
As Chinese business becomes more entwined with the United States, there is an increase in cultural exchange. There is an increase in the need to have bi-cultural, bilingual workers. There is an increased need for international education. Key stake holders in society may balk at dramatic political moves such as a trade war, and threatening tariffs.
The cycle that is created is one of understanding new cultures, respecting them as equals, solving common problems, and sharing resources.
The need for unrestrained competitive tactics to defeat your opponent lessens as you realize that your opponent is your neighbor, your family, your equal. Competition is incorporated into solving common problems.
Living ‘Countries to Counties’
Each individual can support this effort.
Working in these fields helps to soften barriers: International Education, International Business, International Mediation. Any work in that offers social assistance to immigrant groups. This can include a wide range of jobs such as teaching, nursing, social workers, or first-responders. Work in the travel industry can also help to break down borders.
It can manifest not just in career choices, but it can also impact your personal life. In every interaction you have with others, consider how you are raising your barriers?Consider how your actions contribute to them raising theirs? Put this intention in your mind before you meet with someone in difficult interactions: “I am going to lower my personal barriers, so that we can communicate as equals, and solve this problem.”
It seems like a minor thought, but in many interactions, we have power of others. We may be the representative of the company that won’t give them their money back, or we may represent an organization, and we are enforcing a rule or regulation. We may not realize it, but we may use the strengths of these barriers to hold power over another individual. When we do, we do harm to others and ourselves.
A simple way, in this current moment, to work towards removing boundaries, is to oppose Trump’s wall.