The first time I heard President Trump speak of the wall that he had in mind to build between Mexico and the United States, I pondered what that would mean to America.
I wondered if it would be a contradiction to the words on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Was he going to forbid entrance to those who long to live in the land of freedom and democracy? Would it mean that the metaphor, “melting pot,” would be an inappropriate term for America? Would we still be welcoming the “tempest-tossed?” Frankly, the whole idea of blocking people from coming to the U.S. bothered me.
After discussing this with a friend, she told me, “You’re being ridiculous! Why shouldn’t we look out for ourselves and our security? Think of your children and grandchildren. Don’t you want to try to help stop the flow of drugs and illegals coming across the border … among other things?”
I heard a person who was angry about a particular demonstration by those who were opposed to building the wall say, “Ask those people if they lock their cars or the front door to their homes while they’re rioting.”
Although the answer might have been different 50 years ago, nowadays it would be a foolish invitation for crime to leave a home or car open. If we have any sense, we’re careful to keep our windows and doors locked so that thieves and criminals don’t have easy access.
I’m seeing things differently now. Just because we keep things locked up doesn’t mean we aren’t hospitable or compassionate. Building a wall won’t mean that people of a different country, race, religion or culture won’t be received or given a chance to enjoy the greatest nation in the world (although that’s what some people imply).
People from Mexico and migrants may still experience assimilation to the American culture. But we do need stronger borders and screening to keep evil out. We have been too lenient in certain areas of national security.
I looked in the Bible to see if there was anything said about walls. I found hundreds of scriptures pertaining to the subject. Like the walls of Jerusalem for which God inspired Nehemiah, for instance. Perhaps there is an applicable typology in that biblical story for America.
An analogy might be having to do with the protection and repair of a nation. Nehemiah’s wall had been built 100 years before, but it was in disrepair and had been breached. (Does that sound familiar? Remember 911?) That wall had to be repaired so that his people could be safe from their enemies and keep their righteous identity.
Fortunately, all the people came together in unity to work on the wall for fortification. If only all citizens of America would come together for our own welfare – instead of rebelling against our leaders. That biblical story implied the need for the strength of a wall pertaining to our spiritual lives and choices also.
The wall could be representing something very good. And my views have nothing to do with lack of love for the precious people of Mexico. I merely believe we need to protect ourselves. Just as we lock up our homes when we leave them, we should do what we can to keep those who would cause us harm or be a threat, out of our cities.
And as for “repair,” I have great hope that our nation will make every endeavor toward restoration of righteous values.
Connie Bertelsen Young of Fresno is a freelance writer. She is the author of “Signs of the Time,” “Esprit De Corps” and “You’re Only Old Once.”