Wednesday, July 15, 2015

FENCES


There's a lot of touchy-feely talk about migration (illegal immigration) in the press. Some of the talking heads are abysmally out of touch with what it means to walk on planet Earth. In other words, they are part of a privileged layer of society, which includes the likes of Harvard and Oxford professors. There is little practical science or economics in what they have to say. Almost none.

I recently planned and contracted the installation of a border fence with a (legal) immigrant between our driveways. My neighbor and I are subsequently planning the sealcoating of our driveways. This hasn't changed our boundary. It has improved it and our communication about it. It has improved our neighborly relationship. Why? Because it is based in mutual respect for our individual financial and aesthetic needs, which are quite different.

We like our fence. We like our privacy. We understand that we each take care of our own property for the benefit of both of us. We could be a functional team if we need to address issues with the city or other neighbors about our properties. Neither of us is expecting anything but cooperation and respect from the other.

In our neighborhood, we have several people who routinely trespass to rifle through trash bins. They leave behind litter when it suits them. They open closed gates to enter yards and leave those gates open when they leave. One of them, an apparently psychotic young man, smashes glass jars and bottles in the streets while screaming at passing cars.

I have evicted two of these trespassers from my own driveway, where my trash bins sit. I have chosen not to place a gate on my driveway. I approached both trespassers, one a petit Asian woman and the other a tall man with dark skin, with quietly stated information, "This is private property. Do not come in here. You have not been given permission to." Neither responded. They have not returned. They pass my property by when I see them on the street with their carts. One of them now greets me in passing with a half smile and a mumbled 'hello'.

I see myself as much a custodian as owner of property. After all, I do not really think I can own a piece of a planet which has been spinning for many millions of years and will likely be spinning many millions more after my passing. Similarly, I see governments as custodians of their territories for the benefit of the citizens/taxpayers who fund them. And, I see those who live in war-torn or corrupt nations as responsible for the custody of their own territories. In other words, rather than running away from conflict with evil, I think staying in place and fighting evil is the only effective way to defeat it. The partisan movements of Europe during WWII and the guerilla movement in Vietnam against American imperialism are cases in point.

The love affair which the media have with migrants, because they are an endless supply of heart-rending stories which can boost the consumption of their products, is symptomatic of the problems facing the civilized world. Largely nonviolent and civilized national governments are prone to sympathize with migrants and also to infantilize them. While some of the migrant population are legitimately nonviolent protesters against oppression in their native lands, the others are fleeing systems which they helped to create by collusion with evil, silent complacency or refusal to get involved in activism of a progressive nature.
 
How can progressive change occur in the native lands of these illegal migrants without a resisting population of dissatisfied citizens? If those with means and intelligence leave, who is left behind to resist whatever horrible conditions prompted their running away? Western governments have long used the rationalization that taking in these unexamined migrants somehow promotes change in their native lands remotely. Given the state of violence in the world at this time, I have to question the validity of that premise. It seems more apparent that these migrants are more likely to have a corrosive effect on the civilized standards of the countries they invade.
 
I am fortunate to have my immigrant neighbor. He works hard and has invested considerable effort to be a lawful and contributing member of our community. I have a great deal of respect for his efforts. Our fence is a symbol of the way our world currently works. I do not like the way it works for the most part, but I have always felt that working nonviolently and persistently within the environment I have inherited is the only way to promote peaceful progress. Boundaries, whether personal or international, delineate responsibility and require constant tending to avoid inevitable conflict.
 
 
 

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