My wife and I raised five children. In our home we appreciated the walls that surrounded us as well as those that created a degree of separation within. They made heat in the winters and cool in the summers possible, provided privacy and security, and communicated in an indirect way that our house was actually a home where a family resided. Within the walls of our home we all shared the same last name.
Last summer my wife and I, along with our youngest son, Elliott, toured Europe. We stayed in hotels with walls, crossed borders protected by security guards, and transported on public transportation that had systems ensuring that people were in the correct place. The systems worked beautifully.
We visited London where we saw Buckingham Palace surrounded by walls, gates, and guards. We saw the world-renowned Louvre museum in Paris, also surrounded by walls which were heavily guarded. And then we toured the most guarded of all the locations we visited, the Vatican in Rome.
As you might know, the Vatican is a city-state that typically has only one citizen, the Pope.
I’ve been to the Vatican many times, and each time, my experience regarding Vatican security and order was extensive.
Surrounding the Vatican are tall, thick walls to keep intruders out and provide security for the wealth that the global Catholic Church has accumulated throughout the centuries. Its well-ordered system includes an abundance of armed guards, security police, and electronic monitoring equipment to ensure that all Vatican visitors are in the right place at the right time.
Once in the Vatican, everyone is carefully instructed as to where they can be, how long they can stay there, and where the exits are located if they need to leave. Violations are dealt with immediately and effectively. Though I have never been an official guest of the Vatican, I am told that official guests are also strictly instructed as to where they are to be, when they are to be there, how they are to respond to the church officials present, and when they will be escorted off the premises. A certain protocol is expected and enforced within these walls.
St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Square, overlooked by the Pope’s apartment and balcony, are always a highlight. When I was there many years ago, the courtyard was open to all. On more recent visits, I’ve discovered the addition of metal barriers, designating areas for tourists, parishioners, priests, bishops, and cardinals. Heads of state and guests of the Vatican are escorted with great precision through these barriers. Security is everywhere.
And this is on an average day.
Walls are morally neutral, neither good nor bad in themselves. It’s their purpose that can be hurtful or protective. When the Pope, who lives in a walled city, made the comment that we should “not raise walls, but instead build bridges,” he was emphasizing the importance of positive relations. However, a quick glance at his home and the security that surrounds him as he travels reveals the importance of systems that ensure safety.
The Bible says a lot about walls. Even in eternity there is a wall. Revelation 21:12 says, “The city wall was broad and high, with twelve gates guarded by twelve angels.” Then the Bible describes the walls and gates in details. The Bible speaks extensively about the walls around Jerusalem and Jericho, and the separation points between Abraham and Lot provide a few examples. Bottom line, walls work, whether we like them or not. So the debate need not be whether or not they work, but whether or not we want or need a wall.
I remember years ago, as a guest of the State of Israel, I stayed in the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. I was there to participate in a meeting with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and some of his advisors. Sharon was interested in discussing whether or not giving Gaza to the Palestinians would bring peace, as the Palestinians promised it would, and whether or not he should continue building the wall that had been declared illegal by the world court in the Hague the day before.
The morning of our meeting, a suicide bomber blew up a bus full of passengers near our hotel. I went out to see the aftermath. It was horrific. It deeply impacted me because I couldn’t help but notice that the dismembered body parts of Palestinian students looked the same as body parts of Jewish kids. The blood of old women looked the same as the blood of college students. The terrorists announced their intent was to stop our meeting. In response, the Prime Minister just moved the meeting time up. We were in his office within two hours.
We worked all afternoon and settled on several decisions that day. Immediately Israel started moving portions of the wall off of occupied territory onto Israeli land, which satisfied the Hague. Later the Prime Minister decided to give the Palestinians The Gaza Strip. The wall worked, Gaza didn’t.
The bombings stopped for years. Now when they happen, they are highly unusual. Rockets still fly from Gaza regularly, but they either miss their targets or are shot down. Partially because of that ugly, awful wall, peaceful Muslims, Jews, and Christians work together in Jerusalem every day, and some peaceful Palestinians are allowed to cross into Israel and work. Many people, both Palestinian and Jewish, are alive today because of the wall.
When my kids were younger, sometimes they would poke, tease, and fight with one another in the back seat of the car. My wife and I would try negotiating a peaceful settlement with them, but usually the best way to stop the fighting and any ensuing tears was to create barriers—invisible walls—between our children so we could drive down the road peacefully, arrive at our destination safely, and give all of us a future.
Now our kids are grown. We don’t have to create walls in our car any more. They are no longer necessary. Now, our grown children live in their own homes with . . . walls that keep them warm and safe.
8 replies on “Walls Work”
This is a very clear message on the value of properly placed walls. Most people realize that some walls have gates that have guidelines for when a person is allowed to pass.
Isn’t it funny that most people who are against a USA border wall, are the same folks who lock their own house doors and windows every night?
Excellent point. Thank you for your comment.
Tremendously well written. Thoughtful and insightful without attacking.
where i live ive never locked my doors or windows we all look out for each other. ive been to vatican city and those walls are very old. pope francis refuses to live in the vatican its self and lives in the vatican city hotel as he said does that look like a place jesus would lived in? building walls around america or any where else is not the right way. the walls of vatican city has been there for a thousand years and the only reason they monitor ppl is not bc they’re bad it is to keep things safe and ppl on a time schedule. ppl have tried to steal things threw the years so they have to watch ppl to make sure they don’t steal. while not everyone steals some still try. ive always been against any wall. look at the wall the ussr put up in berlin then one day it came down and that was beautiful i knew it would happen one day in my lifetime and it did. i’m not a believer in the christian god or jesus i believe in zeus hera the old gods ive respect for those who believe in the bible god and jesus
walls are not the answer to anything and i’m native american i’m of the apache ppl and we have lost almost everything to men who are white and steal and rape and murder and brought disease and plagues of death. the world can be ugly and i don’t understand why ppl who come from immigrants hate immigrants and want to build a wall to keep other immigrants out of a nation already full of what i see as illegal aliens already.
pastor ted, you’re the only christian i trust ive watched the two docs that alexandra p did and you’re not the usual kinda preacher you don’t judge ppl and you did judge yourself to harshly. yet those who turned their backs on you you forgave that makes you the bigger person.
Thank you for taking the time to write. Good to hear from you.
The wall has saved lives.
As i think about this. I notice the housing development i live has no walls and many people do not have fences in their backyards. My property is not fenced in. The backyard is open to other peoples’ backyards. We all respect property lines and the rule of law and it gives a feeling of trust and helps to convey openess. (No one is being blown up or harmed in my neighborhood). On one side my neighbor decided to fence in his yard because he acquired a dog. The fence keeps the dog out of other peoples property because dogs do not respect property lines and it keeps the dogs safe from getting run over or being taken As they can be observed and taking them becomes more difficult. One would have to cross the fence boundary and possibly be observed.
My first job at 16 was at a downtown movie theater. During blockbuster movies the ropes. came out to provide efficient traffic flow and helped us provide security of sorts and allowed those still watching to enjoy the end undisturbed from those arriving early and wanting to take a peak in.
If walls (ropes/poles, fences and walled boundaries) were taken down in my neighborhood and city as i lived my life then animals from backyards would have been lost runover or taken as they roamed. At the movie theater profits would have been lost as people could have skipped paying and customers would have been disturbed by some who would go in at the end thus causing a bad experience and then a decision to not attend a movie theater in the future that does not provide crowd control with ropes. A mass amount of people leaving the end of the movie from those masses milling around to enter would undoubtedly have caused friction and an occasional fight could have broken out with someone being offended with being bumped into.
In my experience looking back on my life experiences, the walls, boundaries and rules associated with these have kept me and others safe. I’ve noticed the greater the risk of harm to me the greater the wall and security associated with that wall.
Banks have vaults and cameras. Zoos have very high fences. Airports have security check points. Prisons have walls with razor wire on top and armed guards. International boarders have organized entry points and when the risk to harm is higher a wall is there. For example. The Great Wall of China, the walled entry point between San Diego & Tijuana. Haydens Wall
I feel anyone against walls for the sake of not hurting someones feelings when there is a safety issue has another agenda or they believe a false narrative.
In order for a wall to be considered taken down or not put up for anyone or group. They have to prove through time and actions they can be trusted to respect rules of the land and not harm its people.
It is clear that walls exist to keep us in our place… the result of our desire to have our own way. Point well made here. However, we must not forget, the historically infamous walls like the Berlin Wall and the DMZ wall between North and South Korea. Like all man made things, a wall is a neutral reality… the point is why we erect a wall…
Quote from the blog: “Walls are morally neutral, neither good nor bad in themselves. It’s their purpose that can be hurtful or protective. When the Pope, who lives in a walled city, made the comment that we should “not raise walls, but instead build bridges,” he was emphasizing the importance of positive relations. However, a quick glance at his home and the security that surrounds him as he travels reveals the importance of systems that ensure safety.”