Saturday, 2 June 2012

What I am walling in or walling out

Today, June the 2nd, we celebrate the birth of the Italian Republic. A celebration I truly love, for its sense of identity, pride, freedom - and for its colours and waving flags, that remind me of my childhood.

I think we should build and feel our identity by what we are and what we have in common. But lots of people, especially in these hard times, prefer to define their identity by what we are not. We even take pride in what we are not: black, old, poor, weak, ill, ugly, "different"...
I don't think it works. It's a paradox. We struggle to feel part of something, of this shared identity, not by finding out what we have in common, but what we don't want to be. We are building walls between us and "the other". And I'm sure it will backfire.

Before building a wall, we should reflect on what we are walling in or walling out.
Let this be a day without walls. Let we feel we are what we are, and it's fine. Because we have a world in common. And our differences are exactly what enable us to teach and learn from each other.

Thank you Robert Frost.

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."


  1. Dear Laura,
    I like a lot your post. You are right, it's great to feel, we are together, and we have common experiences, ideas to share each other.
    We in Hungary know the importance of being free. We lived in a country with borders and walls, and I remember the great days what we lived - how borned a new and free Republic of Hungary.
    Actually we don't have walls with other European countries, it is nice. And it would be great don't have "mental" walls among people.
    I have a bord in my classroom, where I don't change the photos. There are postcards from Unicef with children from all over the world. We always can remember with children yes, we have different colour of hair, eyes..but we can feel the same things: happiness, hope, curiosity. And the most important are what we feel, the experiences what we live together and moments what we share each other.
    Thank you Laura for sharing us this really nice post.
    Hugs, Mónika

  2. Thank you Monika. I think in this period of crisis, which is social crisis as well as economical, it's important to feel a sense of belonging.
    Trying to "wall out" the Other is a mistake. In the end, it's true that we are all human beings, and have to support each other.