Division: The Reason We Build Walls

Division: The Reason We Build Walls

Maneesh John, Staff Reporter

Since our earliest days, we humans have been masters at building. We’ve built roads and cities, ships and skyscrapers. But perhaps the most powerful structures we’ve ever built are our walls. Their power comes not from their physical strength, but from the feeling they convey. Safety, separation, superiority. They’re a symbol of division, splitting people up into “us” and “them.” In our thousands of years of history, that has never changed. These current times are proof of that.

The recent government shutdown was the longest in American history. Neither the President nor the Democrats were willing to back down. Although they finally reached a compromise, the President said he would be willing to do it again to achieve what he wants. We can only wait and see if another shutdown will begin soon. But what are they divided on, really? What issue is important enough to justify using a government shutdown as a bargaining chip? It’s simple, and it’s ridiculous.

The President wants a wall.

Way back in 2015, presidential candidate Donald Trump famously said, “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.” And now, three years later, President Trump has realized that Mexico is a sovereign nation that won’t take orders from him. He’s given up on making Mexico pay for it, but he will never give up on the wall. So he’s slightly adjusted his plan, replacing “have Mexico pay for it” with “have American taxpayers pay for it.”

Thus, we ended up here. A government shutdown, a political standoff, a suffering public. The question is, how much is President Trump willing to sacrifice for his wall? And maybe the better question is, why?

This idea of a wall is hardly new. Like I said, humanity has been building walls for thousands of years. Perhaps the most famous wall in history is the Great Wall of China. That wall was built over many centuries, with the intent of keeping northern invaders out of China. But even the greatest wall in ancient history had its flaws. It was built at the cost of the lives of many thousands of workers, and for all its physical strength, the wall still failed to protect against some invasions.

It may seem that comparing the Great Wall of China to Trump’s wall is pointless. After all, the Great Wall was built centuries ago, by a civilization without modern technology, and for a different purpose. Even so, the Great Wall brings up the question. Is the enormous cost of any wall worth the unreliable protection it offers?

But there’s a better question. If walls aren’t reliable protection, why do we build them? To divide people. This is made clear by another famous wall, the Berlin Wall. It was built by communist East Germany under the excuse of protecting East Germans from the terrible capitalist evils of West Germany. That was a lie.

The Berlin Wall was designed to keep the East Germans in, to prevent them from escaping to West Germany. The wall also kept the East Germans from seeing how much better life was on the other side. In essence, it was a cage.

That leads us to one final question. What will President Trump’s wall be?

A defense? It would be ineffective.

A symbol of power? It would be a waste of billions of dollars.

In reality, Trump’s wall is a way for him to rally his base. A way to divide people, to increase tensions between us and our neighboring countries, and to stir up arguments among Americans. President Trump knows that the power of the very word “wall” brings attention and media to him, and if anything, he’s an attention-seeker.

Even so, this has gone too far. This historic shutdown put the livelihoods of thousands of federal employees at risk, and significantly dented the economy. The President is playing with American lives.

As the old proverb goes, united we stand, divided we fall. The very idea of building a wall is dividing the American people, and it’s time we tore it down.