We all build walls. They are for protection. We build gates around our terrace so that no one falls from a high place, we build fences around our gardens to keep animals from ruining the gardening or landscape design and we build walls to protect our borders. Most of us build invisible emotional walls to protect ourselves from getting hurt, or criticized. Sometimes we don’t even mean to, it’s a subconscious way our minds protect us from feeling pain, embarrassment, or any form of suffering.
I’ve been listening to a certain podcast (thanks to my friend Shua) and part of one of the episodes focuses on Robert Frost’s famous line from his poem entitled “Mending Wall”, which is “good fences make good neighbors.” I’m not so sure this is true.
I truly struggle with this message. It has been my experience that the fences are there to separate one from another for better or for worse. We have a built-in automatic response system in our brains for protection. We force ourselves out of a comfort zone to break the barriers and to let others in, for if not we’d all be hermits and depressed and just end human life as we know it. But beyond that we also need them because there’s a possibility we’d all end being doormats and stepped on and not treated fairly if we didn’t expose our thoughts or feelings on any given matter important to us and we allow negative people to enter the conversation. We live in a world with rules and when those rules are broken there are consequences – the rules in every country are different and the punishments vary to the very lenient slap-on-the-wrist, or the more serious lock-you-up-in-jail and then to the extreme in certain places.
We all need these boundaries in our lives because they serve to protect us from ourselves and each other when the neurons in the brain go haywire.
His tree branch was leaning over my fence, and I asked him politely 3 times and when he still didn’t trim it, and the rotting fruits fell and landed on my beautiful green garden, it caused unwanted animals and bugs to my space and so I took my chainsaw and butchered his tree to teach him a lesson.
She continually parks in my space and even though I’ve asked her repeatedly and left notes on her car she parks over the space and doesn’t leave me enough space to park in front of my own home! So that’s why I gently backed into her car when trying to park in my space, your honor.
Justifiable reactions are in our minds. Who deems one right and another wrong when there is conflict? We appoint judges to make decisions for us, but they too are human, so of course, just like the rest of us, are capable of making an err in judgement.
For anyone who believes in a higher power – there is a justice system that we can not possibly understand. We have absolute faith that when something occurs, something so devastating that it shakes our very core – we accept that it was meant to be (maybe after some time and healing).
Today the world has lost somone whose contributions to family and society, to community and his country went above and beyond the average person. Today the physical and very good fence (WALL) to separate neighbors did nothing to promote good behavior. This person with his back to his attacker, not offensively inciting anyone, standing still (maybe on his phone, or checking a shopping list) was murdered by a 17 year old in a very open shopping space. Video footage clearly shows that there was opportunity for this teenager to attack another passerby, yet in what appears to be targeted violence chooses our neighbor, our educator, son, husband, father, uncle… and according to reports he still bravely reacted in an attempt to stop the assailant from getting away or harming others.
I can only speak for myself when I say I am not interested in the world’s view. I don’t want to build bridges when I feel there is nothing but ugliness and hatred on the other side. You wouldn’t leave a garden gate open if you knew a rabid dog might bite your baby one day while they play in their own yard. That is how I see our cousins, like a rabid dog.
“infectious, usually fatal viral disease of the central nervous system that is transmitted by the bite of infected animals” – meaning a 17 year old child does not pick up a knife to purposefully stab an innocent bystander unless his brain has been infected. Indoctrinated hatred at a young age so that he honestly feels his actions – the end justifies the means.
We are all mourning this tragic loss on a monumental level. I bet most people reading this will feel the way I do. We are being targeted. We can not be blamed for others actions. We all must take responsibility for our own actions. The lame, age-old excuse for harming us is because of a land dispute which happened many years ago. But I doubt the younger children even hear this anymore. There are lies that are spread so evil, that their children are led to believe they are doing the right thing by causing harm to others.
If there was a wall high enough, strong enough, powerful enough to keep your enemy away – wouldn’t you build it to protect the ones you love? We have a wall. It is not tall enough, or strong enough. Our enemy is near and is finding ways around the wall, with a balloon, or a kite, or a kitchen knife. The people of the world need to spread love – but it’s not easy when the rabid dog is barking at your wall.
May we find peace where we can in the last 48 hours left of the Days of Awe before we reach the day of Atonement.
In Memory of Ari Fuld, z”l.