"I didn't see you standing there." That's what Willie Nelson had to say on the subject. Metaphorically speaking, his walls were the ones that kept him company in the absence of the love that left him. They remind him of what used to be, even though things are not the way they used to be. Roger Waters and his band wrote a double album about walls. Four sides about alienation and loss and more alienation. "All in all, they were all just bricks in the wall."
Isaac Newton's recording contract never came through, but he was a pretty clever guy. He said, "We build too many walls and not enough bridges." Eugene O'Neill, who might have been a lyricist for Pink Floyd if he hadn't been so busy scribbling those plays of his, said "Life is for each man a solitary cell whose walls are mirrors." Fairport Convention recorded a song with words written three hundred years earlier by a guy named Richard Lovelace: "Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage."
These artsy snowflakes have been ruminating about walls for a long time. A great Republican out of the past insisted that a mean old Russian tear down his wall. It had a good beat, and it was easy to dance to, and it was a hit way back when. Now, some thirty years later, walls are back. In a big way. After months of prattling on some nonsense about building a wall on our nations' southern border, the Presumptive President of the United States is now moving ahead with his plan. The plan that so many of us believed to be just so much wind in sails.
This is no metaphor. This is the history we are currently making. Anger and fear and alienation is building a wall. The one hundred twenty dollars a year American taxpayers are being asked to pay for this construction project comes as a bit of a shock, seeing as how all the previous bluster had somebody else paying for it. We were going to get that great big wall just for asking Mexico real nice. Apparently, we didn't ask nicely enough. Now we have to pay for our own fear, pain and alienation.
In the meantime, a voice from the past cries out. The mayor of Berlin, a city with its own wall-related issues, insists, “We Berliners know best how much suffering was caused by the division of an entire continent with barbed wire and concrete.” He's not talking donuts, either. He knows. For nearly thirty years, Berlin was a symbol of what was wrong with communism. David Bowie knew it.
I, I can remember (I remember)
Standing, by the wall (by the wall)
And the guns, shot above our heads (over our heads)
And we kissed, as though nothing could fall (nothing could fall)
And the shame, was on the other side
Oh, we can beat them, forever and ever
Then we could be heroes, just for one day
Don't be a snowflake. Be a hero.