Mending Wall

Published: June 21, 2021

By Jim Lichtman
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“Man is free at the instant he wants to be.” – Voltaire

Looking up at the nation’s Capitol, two small children, a boy and girl, were standing at the bottom of the steps looking up, awed by the size and brilliance of the white building. Each began climbing the 365 steps to reach the top. When one had trouble, the other helped. When one stumbled, the other pulled them up. This went on for some time as it took the two some effort, but each was committed to their goal.

Standing at a window, two men watched, observant of the help each was giving the other. They watched as the two stood at the top and cheered at their accomplishment. The two men were attempting to reach an agreement that would secure help for many. However, each dug in, each vowing to unsettle the other. Inspired by the persistence of the children, the two were determined to find agreement as the wall of division between them dissolved into collaboration.

“Good fences make good neighbors,” Robert Frost wrote describing two neighbors separated by a stone wall in need of repair.

“But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.

“He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’

“Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.”

Two men stood in a window, each with his own opinion, his own disposition; each exchanging opinions, neither angry nor resentful, each respectful of the other, mending themselves as they go.

“Good fences make good neighbors.”


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