Another Brick in the Wall

I have borrowed the title for this blog from a song by Pink Floyd with that title:

I like Pink Floyd and especially this song very much, but—other than in houses and other buildings—I’m not a fan of walls. Walls built for defensive purposes have a long history. They were constructed, often at great expense to those forced to do the building, to protect those living in a city from attacks by “outlanders.” One of the famous examples from history is Troy. While most of what we know about Troy is based on Greek literature, there is no reason to doubt that Troy was a walled city. Most cities in “those days” were walled. In times of war, people in the outlying areas would gather inside the city walls for protection. If you haven’t read books or seen movies about medieval warfare, you owe it to yourself to watch a few. (Yes, our ancestors really did stuff like that—human “history” is primarily a record of wars.)

In medieval history, the most famous wall was the one in China. The famous wall in more recent history is the one that was in Berlin. Unlike most walls in history, the Berlin Wall was designed to keep people in. One of the main things to note about walls is that they have never really worked. Walls have always been breached. Humans are both resourceful and determined, and walls, more than anything else, challenge humans to find a way to go over, under, or around.

And now another leader in another country wants to build a “great and beautiful wall” to keep people out of the country he wants to rule with an iron fist. He says he wants to keep people out, but history has demonstrated that walls don’t work well to keep people either in or out. If the proposed wall is actually built, what it will do is interfere with the migration of a number of plants and animals. The leader who wants to build the wall has demonstrated that he doesn’t have much respect for the land or those with whom he shares the planet. He wants to authorize (and has already started doing so) increased fossil fuel exploration and use, increased uranium mining and use, and decreased investment in wind and solar power. He, and many of his associates, subscribe to the “greed is good” philosophy of the movie protagonist, Gordon Gekko.

Greed is, of course, not sustainable. The downtrodden have always found was to rise up and destroy those who had been responsible for their plight. The American Revolution was fought to protest unfair taxation. The impetus for the French Revolution was also initially based on the economy, as were the Russian Revolution, and the Chinese Revolution The big problem, of course, is that those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it. I wonder how many iterations it is going to take to learn the lessons of the past.

We now know enough about human history, to know that what goes around, comes around: history repeats itself. We need to get out of that rut, and that means we need to stop doing what we’ve always done and do something new. In my opinion, the “new” should be not build the wall; mine for more coal, oil, natural gas, and uranium; pollute the oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams; and kill wildlife for pleasure and trophies. We should resist anything and everything that harms the planet and those who live on it.

We have been cannibalizing ourselves and our shared resources for too long. We need to start protecting life as we know it as best we can. If we don’t start now, when will we? At some point it will be too late…. A long time ago, one of my heroes, Pete Seeger, wrote the song, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone. The first version I heard was done by Peter Paul, and Mary, and it has remained my favorite version: