Donald Trump might or might not actually build a wall along our border with Mexico once he takes office (assuming, of course, he can get his transition team together and actually figure out this whole taking-over-the-White House thing within the next eight weeks). Whether he does or does not go ahead with his ambitious wall-building scheme is somewhat immaterial, though, since that promise has resonated with so many of his acolytes. So resonant was it, indeed, that even some of this country’s youngest citizens have taken it up as a chant.
Building a wall seems like a pretty silly idea to many of us. It’s not physically feasible, considering the winding path the border actually takes. It’s economically impractical. It’s not geopolitically pragmatic. It’s symbolically crude. Of course, Trump and his sycophants don’t really care about the real-world obstacles to the wall. They just want it as protection against everything they fear.
But the notion of building a wall has got me thinking.
Let’s reframe this project.
Let’s build a wall with bricks made of peace, love, kindness, generosity, curiosity, understanding, and compassion. Let’s follow the lead of Cubs’ fans who decorated the brick walls of Wrigley Field with messages of hope and gratitude. Let’s build a wall made of these bricks, with ladders made of aspiration, so that anyone can climb up on top of it and get an amazing view from way up high of the other side, so that they can take a good long look at another country, another culture, another people and maybe learn something.
Let’s build walls thick enough to serve as elevated paths to walk along from east to west, north to south, so we can all look across this great nation and see what’s out there, what’s beyond the borders of our own pieces of property, of our own communities, of our own hearts.
Let’s build walls to stop the flow of hate.
Let’s build walls to staunch the tide of fear.
Let’s build walls to stem the onslaught of anger.
Let’s build a wall made of family and friends and neighbors, holding hands and staring down intolerance.
Let’s build a wall made of folks from cities and suburbs and offices and factories and farms and schools, linking arms and blocking ignorance.
If people want to take our country back, let’s take them back to 1986 for another “Hands Across America” when 6.5 million people held hands in a human wall stretching across the entire continental United States. “Hands Across America” raised more than $34 million for the fight against hunger and poverty. The event was sponsored by U.S.A. for Africa, which provided seed money that launched the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness, an organization through which students continue to speak out against poverty.
Maybe it’s time we rethink this whole wall thing. Maybe it’s time we steal the idea and turn it in to a force for good instead of a force for evil.
But whether you’re for Trump’s wall or against it, let’s think about walls in a different way. Let’s think about walls of love (Paris has done it. Even Iran has done it. Why can’t we do it here?) and the positive messages we can share by joining forces, brick by human brick. Let’s think about ways to build people up instead of tearing them down.
One way we can do just that is to help out organizations that are building walls of love, walls of kindness, and walls of generosity. Organizations like With Compassion & Soul, which supports animals and rainforests, have built Walls of Love. The “Wall of Kindness” movement has spread across Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, and beyond, helping to provide clothing and other supplies to the homeless. The movement has even reached New York. Various organizations are posting Walls of Gratitude to thank their supporters and encourage giving. Others have launched Walls of Hope to help people share their stories of, for instance, surviving cancer.
Despite the Trumpiness that the word “wall” has taken on over the past year and a half, we can take our country back from the negative characterization. We can make America great again by building walls of love, of kindness, of gratitude, and of hope.
Will you join me?